Ex Sea World trainers speak out in new video

(Video screengrab)

(Video screengrab)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

In the wake of allegations of animal mistreatment and neglect at Marineland, the Humane Society of the United States has released a video of former Sea World trainers decrying the practice of keeping whales in captivity.

"What I thought I understood about whales...just a few glimpses I got in the wild, I was like, 'I know nothing about whales. Sea World didn't teach me anything about whales, I wasn't teaching anything to anyone...'" Samantha Berg says after a visit to Puget Sound, Wash., to view orcas in their natural habitat.

Two fellow former trainers and HSUS marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose accompanied her on the trip in July.

"This is where they are doing what nature meant them to do," Rose says in the video that was uploaded to the HSUS site and to YouTube Thursday. "They live in their family groups, they forage and hunt for fish, they socialize, they breed.... This is the real sea world."

 

 

Also on the trip was David Kirby, author of Death at Sea World, in which he writes about Tilikum, a killer whale kept at Sealand in Victoria, B.C., before being shipped to the Orlando park. The orca was notoriously involved in the deaths of three people — most recently in February 2010 — which Kirby said would never have happened had Tilikum not been forced into captivity.

"If he were left alone in Iceland, he wouldn't have killed — not one person, not two people, and certainly not three people."

Their sentiments echo allegations from Phil Demers, a former trainer at Marineland, whose claims of substandard facilities and staffing issues at the park sparked inspections by animal welfare officials and, earlier this week, an announcement that the provincial government will consider new rules for zoos and aquariums.

"These former employees who have come forward have done a great service," Kirby says in the HSUS video.

"I knew captivity wasn't quite so good for killer whales, but I really hadn't known what they were missing all that time until I saw the wild animals," former Sea World trainer Dr. Jeffrey Ventre says. "It blew me away."


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