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SeaWorld To Ask Judge For Public Hearing Ban

WDCS has recently been notified that SeaWorld has presented a request to a Florida Federal Judge seeking a protective order banning the public from the hearing to occur on April 25th where it will contest the August fine and ‘willful’ citation issued by OSHA (the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration). SeaWorld also plans to outline its recent safety measures it plans to implement since the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau nearly a year ago.

Originally scheduled for February 14th, the hearing was moved to April 25th with the understanding that it would be open to the public. If this court order is signed, all proceedings and documentation associated with this high-profile and important case will be sealed and off-limits to the public forever. This order would bar the public from participating in the hearing and seal all content, including expert witness testimony from both sides and all documentation associated with the hearing, including any evidence relating to the welfare of orcas in captivity.  If the records are sealed, expert witnesses who participate in this trial would not be allowed to discuss it publicly, essentially closing the details from public view and future action.

Unfortunately, past cases involving employee injuries as a result of violent interactions with orcas have been kept secret from the public, including the crippling and near-death of trainer John Sillick in 1987.  Due to a miscue, John Sillick fractured his vertebrae, femur, and pelvis while riding Orky.  Subsequent court proceedings involving lawsuits filed by Sillick and two other trainers involved in serious orca incidents were sealed from public view. This means that no one can know any findings behind these cases; and no one can learn or benefit from the thousands of pages of prepared evidence associated with these cases.
The Federal Judge assigned to hear this case is expected to sign the protective order in the next few days! 

Please write to the United States Department of Labor today, and stay tuned to find out more about orcas in captivity in the coming days on our website.