SeaWorld Trainerís Autopsy Report Indicates Tilly Wasnít Playing

Although a judge ruled that the video footage showing Tilly the orca attacking SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau won’t be made public, Brancheau’s autopsy report was released recently–and it sure doesn’t sound like Tilly was playing when he grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her under water.

According to the six-page report, Brancheau’s left arm and part of her scalp were ripped off, she suffered spinal cord injuries, her ribs were broken, as were bones in her legs, arms, and face, she had bruises and cuts all over her body, and, ultimately, she was drowned.

This sounds more like an act of rage than an attempt at “play” gone wrong. As PETA President Ingrid  Newkirk says, “These were not love bites, but the vented fury of an angry and frustrated being who has been deprived of everything in life: family, friends, freedom—all for the sake of human profit and a few giggles.”

Orcas may not have the same sense of revenge that humans do—and Tilly may not have premeditated the attack—but it’s not unusual for animals in circuses, zoos, travelling exhibits, and amusement parks to injure or kill the people who deprive them of everything that is natural and important to them. And can you really blame them?

As I pointed in my previous post about the attack at SeaWorld, Tilly’s action shouldn’t have come as any surprise. Not only was he involved in two other deaths, the tank he was kept in was a virtual bathtub in comparison to his natural ocean home. (Performance artist Brian Feldmann even held an 18-hour tub-in to symbolize the 18 long years that Tilly has spent in captivity.)

While Tilly still has an innate instinct to kill, he is a mere shadow of an orca—unable to swim for miles and miles, hunt, choose a mate, socialize with other members of a pod, and communicate via echolocation.

The only thing that people learn by visiting a SeaWorld theme park is that it is acceptable to yank marine mammals from their natural habitats and imprison them in manmade environments that bare little resemblance to their ocean homes.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Care2 petition asking SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment President Jim Atchison to relocate Tilly to a sea pen.. After nearly three decades in captivity, it would be unwise to release him directly into the open ocean, but a sea pen would allow him to enjoy a more natural environment.





W. C
W. C1 years ago


William C
William C1 years ago

Thank you.

Hannah Scrivener
Hannah Scrivener5 years ago

Terrible terrible terrible tragedy any way you wanna look at it. Zoos, circuses and theme parks like Sea World hurt the animals they imprison, and endanger the lives of the people who work and visit them.I'd love to see them all shut down or converted into nature preserves.

Laura Saxon
.5 years ago

Seaworld really needs to be shut down. They imprison animals who have done nothing wrong and force them to perform cruel and un natural tricks for our so called "entertainment."

Richard Hancock
Richard Hancock6 years ago

Just don't go, don't line the pockets of those exploiting animals, or women, men or anything!

Sandra D.
Sandra D6 years ago

If people did not go to the shows or want to swim with the dolphins or pet the lions & tigers then there would be none of these wild animals in captivity! We need to boycott these types of entertainments and activities or there will never been any change. Profit and self-centered pleasure are the priorities these days and unless we change that things will stay the same for these poor animals. People need to think of the world from a different perspective for the world to change.

Lynn C.
Past Member 6 years ago


Karen and  Ed O.
Karen and Ed O6 years ago

"We will never have animals in our shows. They are animals not performers, they should be in the jungle."
--------------------------------------Pierre Parisien, Cirque du Soleil

Christine Jones
christine jones6 years ago

Humans cant continue to abuse animals and not expect that some of them will 'retaliate'. It just such as sad pity that more animals are abusing. IT's time they fight back, dog bite, elephants trample, etc. Administer to your abuser the same treatment they give to you.

Chr Karstens6 years ago

For starters, this seems AGAIN a totally irrelevant question. How do we even know if an animal knows it is killing somebody or going to kill someone? The point is, as is made abundantly plain, and rightly, in the article, that the animal was full of justified aggression against the victim. What more do we need to know? This is not a human court of law (thank God) where 'intention' is relevant, after all! I agree with the petition (which I'll sign now) that Tilly should be transferred to a larger space, hopefully with a prospect of being able to survive in the wild ..