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Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 human deaths: analysis

(Printing document makes it easier to follow cross references)

Allow me to acknowledge first and foremost, that the loss of these three individuals
is a tragedy: one their families and loved ones struggle to return from, never
completely recovering from. A given.
Here: I will review the SUBSTANCE of the three events. In the few times I offer a
possibility hinging on animal motive, its in context of what we know about animal
drivers/motivating factors along with this individual orcas prior behaviors & specific
Broken down here as:

Facts (givens due to reported actual findings)

Premise (given what we know, presented as a reputable sum)

Possibility (consider this)

Keep in mind that orcas cannot view humans the way we view ourselves.
We cannot expect them to.
Orcas clearly arent motivated by all the same things humans are
motivated by, given different social structures and biology. Orcas dont
mislead humans: we humans at times MISREAD them. Trying to assign orcas
the intents we humans have is a rancid form of anthropomorphism, one
that keeps us from seeing and comprehending orcas inside the context of
their own specific animal being. The human yardstick isnt one an orca can or
will measure against: its arrogance to think they should. It is in that arrogance
our own arrogance that humans place themselves in peril. Read on.
Keep in mind that some of us humans enjoy scaring ourselves. Our media
thrives on that odd joy: and accordingly has spun these unfortunate situations ad
Understand that orcas act within the orca social structure they were
raised in, while doing no harm.
Understand that orcas look for other whales around them: a norm in their

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured

social structure.
Keep in mind: orcas can hold their breath for ~ hr underwater. Orcas have no
way of knowing that we humans cant do the same.
Fact & premise: Trainers are DRESSED in orca-patterned wet suits: a repetitive visual
striving to look like orcas, to look alike. While one cant speak for how orcas
perceive this: the repetition and similarity could inform a sense of likeness in the
orcas toward us. While that is what Sea World hopes: it may also be working against
humans in that the intelligent orca species, held in captivity, has humanmade incentive to possibly self-reference when dealing with human
beings. (See above factor re: holding breath underwater. Consider this.)
Fact to keep in mind: Sea World states that Tilikum is a dry work only orca: no
water work is done with him. No desensing with humans in water, throughout
orca Tilikums captivity and to this day. Other captive orcas have water work: i.e.
trainers work with water work orcas extensively, are physically IN the water with
captive water work orcas, leap from their rostrums, ride, surf. Fact: A water
work orca has a different relationship to humans than a non-water
work orca does. Hence a different UNDERSTANDING OF experience of humans. Tilikum is a non-water work orca. Keep that in mind as you read on.
Keep in mind: orcas communicate to each other and we dont know what they
communicate to each other. Small possibility: other captive orcas discussing
water work experiences with non-water-work orca Tilikum. We simply dont
Possibility: novelty drive increases in captivity (with a concurrent smaller
area to expend the novelty drive). If accurate, this would create bigger
problems over time for humans re: captive animal interactions.
Possibility: Sometimes we forget where curiosity begins and love leaves
off. (A primate issue)
(A bit about me which seems applicable here: Science and math came readily to
me. For grins, years ago, I taught anatomy & physiology and pathophysiology.
Biology interests stem from strength trainer expertise, proprioception physics, highlevel-analytics scientific pursuits and much more. I have discussed these below
scenarios with intelligent and educated others who know the fields of study which
advise them.)

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

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Parts of the below analysis include carefully detailed aspects of the human anatomy.
Not gratuitously detailed: detailed for the sake of substance and clarity, to hopefully
remove the errors and hype around each situation. Read at your own risk.

First case: trainer Keltie Byrne, 1991 (aka. KB)

Premise: slipped, didnt slip: immaterial human-blaming point.

Disregarded. Either way, an orca wanted to bring KB into the water and did.

Premise: a whale grabbed her foot and pulled her in.


Fact: there are multiple records of multiple orcas grabbing feet (and
other body parts). Read the web for nearly 40 years of said accounts.
Premise: given the prevalence of this behavior, across location, time,
orcas, trainers, etc. and also in light of what we know of these
physically-engaged, sensate animals we call orcas, grabbing and
touching humans is inside the realm of normal for captive orca

Fact: orca who grabbed KB was Haida (multiple written accounts verify this).
(Not Tilikum.)

Fact: Haida carried KB to the middle of the pool and repeatedly

submerged her. (multiple news articles, available on web.) Orcas
Nootka (anemic, on repeated antibiotics) and Tilikum joined in.

Fact: play between orcas is a social norm.

Fact: female dominant social structure. Haida & Nootka =

females. Male Tilikum follows his social structure.

Also reputable discussion to consider re: Haida & Nootka

abusing/aggressing Tilikum or a possible practice
known in some aquariums of certain orcas being placed
with more aggressive orcas in order to encourage
submission/compliance. (Given there are three types of
orcas: residents, transients and offshores (each with their
own distinct dialects and culture): and that we humans at
will mix these non-associating orca types and orcas from
different parts of the world - in the same pens: using an

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aggressive orca to subdue another orca unfortunately
remains well within the realm of human possibility. Look to
our human society to date to find an archaic model of this

Non-issue whether either or both female orcas were pregnant.

Pregnant or no, orca Haida would have led to grab KB simply
because she chose to.

Premise: ~ 10 minutes of play between orcas Haida, Nootka and Tilikum. (In
multiple articles, no one was timing it with a stop watch, best estimate given
a human-traumatic scenario in play.)

Fact: screaming KB (multiple accounts) probably thrashing, flailing as well

Fact: Loudest human scream recorded at 128db

Fact: Orcas hearing measured between ~12-95db. BELOW level of

human scream. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10462816

= Fact: orcas didnt hear KB screaming

Premise: besides, if the orcas could have heard KB, how exciting would
it be to have a toy which also makes noise when you play with it?
Any animal owner can verify that to an already-excited animal, such is
even more exciting.

Fact: KB went up and down in the water x3, other trainers almost able to
reach her with a hook (multiple news articles, available on the web)

Premise: no better way to play a game of tag with an animal than to

try to take a new toy away from it. (Any animal owner can verify this.
Particularly true for smart and bored animals.) *

Fact: life ring was thrown to KB. Premise: increasing game of tag
interest for the orcas.

Fact: they (orcas) actively kept KB from getting out of the water.
Definitive trainer statement and observation. (see above premise*)

Premise: orcas were gentle, they tried not to hurt her observed by human
bystander (documented article, available on web). Considering how terrified

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most humans would be observing this scenario, the gentle observation is
quite telling. Correlates with play toy idea.

Premise: it took hours to retrieve her body. (No records available to prove
timeline, not timed by any present.)

Premise: In the idea of toy, the idea is to keep the toy away from
people. (see above conversation). Orcas won this game: not
maliciously, esp. if gentle (see above). Simply a game in the orca

Fact: all Tilikum did was carry KBs dead body around on his back (see
## in text below as cross-reference), and it took two hours to retrieve
KB. Definitive trainer observation of action: likely tied to clock
observation: accepted as fact.

Substance rather than motive: and removing human feelings re:

actions. Possibility: Carrying something around on ones back
in the orca world is also tied to caring in the dolphin world:
could be possible also with orcas. (Orcas are part of dolphin
family.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?
feature=player_embedded&v=ymgfO_xckLs (This carrying-ofthe-body occurs in the second human death tied to
Tilikum as well. See below.)

Premise: Death cause = hypothermia (possibly drowning). No records or

autopsy for KB case located on the web to verify information. Reasonable
given scenario/underwater time.

SUM: Tilikum didnt initiate this (Haida did the initial grab), he engaged in
orca play with dominant others as is his orca social structure, carried KB on
back. (Amazing the amount of inappropriate blame male orca Tilikum
received in the media for this KB case.) Not a death attributable to Tilikum
specifically: certainly not attributable directly to Tilikum actions/behaviors.

Second case: interloper Daniel Dukes, 1999 (aka. DD)

Fact & premise: July 6th: a Tuesday. Sea World typically stays open to the
public until 10pm. Since theres a late Shamu show (~9pm), probably much
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later when all visitors have left, all staff have left, all operations have been
settled/shut down for the night. DD event probably occurred early am: well
after dark.

Fact & premise: after dark, DD waited until everyone was gone, stripped out
of his clothes except a simple nylon bathing suit (other clothes were found in
a pile, not in the water), intentionally climbed over multiple barriers and
jumped (or likely dove) unannounced into 18 y.o. Tilikums pool.

Fact: DD reported by park staff to have jumped into other mammals pools at
other time and removed ie. manatees.

Fact & premise: its dark, possibly early morning. Tilikums in his pool. All of a
sudden theres a splash and something large enters his pool at a nonnormal time of day. Curiosity is a normal intelligent animal response. Since
this is a non-water work orca: the only two things that enter his pool are
food and toys. Tilikum checks out the object by echolocation = probably not
food (too big), must be a toy. Reasonable to assume orca is unstimulated,
given at a quiet time of night/early morning.

Fact: Drugs? Marijuana found in clothing piles. Toxicology screen

negative = none in DDs body at time of incident. Mental illness factor
undiagnosed/no definitive records.

DD is the ONLY scenario of the three where orca Tilikum is in an

unexcited/unstimulated state at the time of the incident. KEY learning
point for future reference while working with captive orcas. Keep this
point in mind.

Fact: DD body found nude, draped across Tilikums back. (see ## for cross
reference) (second time this occurred. See above possibility.)

The man was sort of draped over the whales back behind the dorsal
fin. There was no obvious trauma. per Jim Solomons, Orange County
Sheriffs office.

Have you considered what effort & thought it would take for
Tilikum to place DDs body on his own back, unassisted, behind
the dorsal fin? Why would an animal go to all that trouble, never
mind a supposedly vicious one? (Remember, an orca has no
incentive to be gruesome and its not in orca nature to do so:

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thats an inappropriate human projection of human motives and
fears onto an animal.)

Second possibility applicable in DD case: Tilikum could have

been swimming slowly around his pool, carrying DDs body most
of the night (see @@ for cross reference), swimming to the view
window in the morning (because orca Tilikum would know by
past experience that humans regularly show up at the view
window around certain times of the day) to make sure a human
saw & could come & retrieve. (see below point @@) An orca has
no reason to carry something, anything , for that long, unless
they care about it (or simply care about returning it). (see above
dolphin-carrying video on YouTube.)

Fact: Tilikum could have easily dumped DB body anywhere in his

pool & simply ignored it.

Fact: There was no obvious trauma. Tilikum has the physical

ability to have been able to bash DD against the walls of the
pool until he was in pieces, or to rip his body into small bits.
NONE of that occurred. Its not in the orca social structure to do

Orcas relationship to humans is one of

curiosity and possibly play: thats it. We humans
have to manage our side of that relationship
better in order to allow for such to occur safely,
hopefully with mutual consent.

Possibility: consider that DD had a ponytail, tied back with two bands a blue
one and a white one (normally two bands are indicative of a longer length
ponytail: not absolute fact). While the media had an inappropriate field day
with third case DBs ponytail, consider that DDs ponytail remained intact.
Autopsy indicated hair/ponytail was intact on DDs head. (This erases
ponytail fascination/danger. If Tilikum had had a ponytail fascination, DDs
would have indicated play/use/tear/biting/missing etc. NONE of those were
stated in the DD autopsy). According to Sea World in courtroom, Tilikum was
desensed to ponytails. No ponytail factor: media hype/spin/creating fear
factor for their own inanely destructive pleasure.

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Fact: (per autopsy report) Death cause = hypothermia and drowning

(Reasonable given scenario.) Source document:


Fact: Drowning: pulmonary edema (excess fluid in the tissues of the

lungs, consistent with drowning), frothy fluid within bronchi, pleural
effusion (L = 500cc, R = 200c), pulmonary congestion (excess fluid in
the tissues of the lungs, consistent with drowning).

Abrasions, contusions & lacerations pre-mortum (before death)

Contusions and abrasions listed were NOT severe ones

Premise: suggests curiosity of DD (toy) presence, not attack

Abrasions, contusions, and avulsion of the scrotum (left testes

SEPARATE, DD with testes post-mortem)

Distinct pattern of abrasions and contusions post-mortem (after


Possibility: could be from orca picking up subject (DD

body, toy) from the bottom of the pool. A way for a big
being to carefully pick up a smaller softer toy.

Left testes separate:

Fact: nylon swim trunks crotch & inner leg seams torn
open. No torn seams noted in autopsy report for the
slacks/pants: the pants didnt enter the pool.

Fact: if orca had wanted to purposely remove genitals,

BOTH testes, scrotum sac & penis would have been
missing. Only scrotal sac & one testicle (right) missing ie.
divers had to go to the bottom of the pool to retrieve
little pieces of his body.

Toy factor. See above. Possibility: Nylon swim

trunks could have slipped on water impact. Swim
trunks would be a reliable way to grab on to

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slippery human body DD: a grab with (playful,
curious) orca teeth.

Fact: Orca has no way of knowing

anything about the human male genital

Premise: Grabs ahold of swim trunks in

curious play. Flimsy nylon swim trunks get
easily torn. One gentle teeth grab (from a
12,000lb orca) on DD body would easily
account for accidental scrotal sac & one
testicle avulsion. (Not personal to DD, men.

Remote possibility: consider if Tilikum had learned

from other captive orcas about their experience of
water work with humans, perhaps in the middle
of the night orcas dont sleep like humans do
there may have been a partial enactment of water
work (or whatever version of it this orca
remembered or wanted to try with this new &
unexpected toy in the quiet, unstimulating middle
of the night). Curiosity & play factors.

Chronic bronchitis, mild (unrelated to incidence. In autopsy report)

Drug screen negative. (No drugs in DDs system at time of incidence)

Eye sclera & conjunctiva congested, middle ears congested =

consistent with long submersion. Possibility: once dead & body air
released itself, body sank. Possibility: toy taken underwater for some
time by orca in deep dives (deep dives are a known normal for orcas
swim patterns & play). Well never know mechanism for sure. Both
possibilities could have happened before morning when DD was found.

Fingernails: cyanosis of nailbeds = consistent with lack of oxygen from

drowning. If deep dive AND/OR quick drowning (because theres no
documentation available as to how WELL DD could actually swim), lack
of oxygen is an expected result. Consistent findings.

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Liver mortis is dorsal except over pressure points = indicates dead

body was FACE UP for some time. (see @@) (Since rigor mortis is
complete in the cool body at time of autopsy hours after the event,
dorsal liver mortis likely happened before the cool body left the pool,
indicating long FACE UP time occurred on orca Tilikums back) (see
point @@ above) Adds to premise that Tilikum picked up DD body prior
to body growing cold with rigor mortis and prior to liver mortis and
managed alone to put DD body on his own back behind his dorsal fin,
carrying DD body through the night until morning when humans
arrived. (NOTICE: This behavior doesnt correlate AT ALL with

Lungs were expanded, diaphragm intact. (No blunt force trauma to

chest or abdomen area. (Expanded = inhalation mode: consistent with

Fact: if orca had wanted to kill DD: chest, abdomen or head

are most effective ways to do so. No evidence of ramming
shown on DD body. (Notable: no ramming correlates with
unexcited/unstimulated orca state.) No skull fracture per
autopsy report.

Premise: notice again this is late at night/early am, no

other human stimuli, no external excitement factor
known: likely only orca curiosity.

Premise: In normal wild orca training by mother/matriline (in

Tilikums situation, up to 2 years old, prior to capture): orca
Tilikum would likely have observed some kill prey techniques
by other orcas in pod or nearby pods, even if young orca Tilikum
himself didnt partake in the actual killing. (We dont know for
certain if orca Tilikum did or didnt kill prey: more likely that pod
and/or mother would have.) The tools to kill were there that
night when DD dove in: orca Tilikum chose not to use them, had
no reason to use them given orca social structure and behavior.

Tongue without evident recent injury. (DD didnt bite down or chew
on his tongue prior to death, common anxiety/fear/panic response in
traumatic situations.)

Stomach has 100cc grumous white fluid, no pills present. (expected)

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No skull fracture. Mild subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) of cerebellum.

Cervical 1/hippocampus reveals hypoxic neurons. (Consistent with
being underwater/submersion. Hypoxic = without oxygen, air) Since no
skull or cervical (neck) vertebrae fractures were found or reported, its
NOT external blunt trauma which caused the SAH: likely tied to hypoxic
event inside the brain.

Bruises, abrasions, teeth marks found to be post-mortem (AFTER

death). See above notes on this re: the feat of orca placing DD body on
his own back behind dorsal fin.

Fact: orca did not, does not have knowledge to sustain human

Fact reviewed here for pertinency: being underwater for a long

time is a NORM for orcas. Orcas (in particular captive orcas)
dont know that being underwater a long time is NOT a norm for

DD death not attributed to Tilikum actions/behavior. RULED OUT.

Third case: trainer Dawn Brancheau, 2010 (aka. DB)

After a midday show, in front of about 20 visitors who stuck around after the

Statements (available via web search): multiple reports of captive show

whales not following directions, show cut short d/t all whales behaviors,
whales were not cooperating, whale behaving like an ornery child, other
whales were agitated before the incident. Whales were splashing each
other and racing around the tank. whale kind of flipped out, going as fast as
they could in the water. Tilikum usually perfoms at the end of that show: he
was not in that show. (normally very laid back whale Tilikum) took off
really fast in the tank, & then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the
trainer & started thrashing around.

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Premise: for whatever undetermined reason(s), multiple whales were

agitated/acting out. Orca Tilikum would not only pick up on that, but
also likely act out. As above. Etc.

Fact: orcas were stimulated, possibly over stimulated at time of

incidence. (We humans would do well to SERIOUSLY reconsider the
arrogant folly of any interaction with captive orcas when theyre in a
highly excited, repetitively stimulated state. Its not like the orcas try
to hide when theyre in that state: we have to care enough about
ourselves to get out of the way, and perhaps discover what caused the
agitation. We humans place ourselves in danger if we dont reconsider
safeguards at the very minimum.)

Trainer communication: between DB & trainer below. Per reports (available on

the web), the plan was for DB to signal orca Tilikum to go down to glass area
for photo op there, which she apparently did per her job and as a skilled and
reputable trainer & team mate.

Fact & premise: DB previously lying down on a slideout area with her face
near Tilikum, apparently rubbing his head. (Apparently, according to web
reports, this was not the first time this occurred, so not abnormal per se.)
Standing in approximately 8 inches of water on platform when incident
occurred. Apparently likely DB had run out of food (part of reward training
systems), was tickling Tilikums tongue. (All actions reported to have been
observed happening prior to incident: these were not new behaviors between
DB & Tilikum. Experienced trainer DB had worked with Tilikum before.)

Fact & premise: Photographs, web data: Likely DB was tickling Tilikums
tongue, possibly her own body-signaling that she/DB was going to end the
attention/back away (as DB was to signal Tilikum to go to the glass area for a
photo op). Something ANY trainer would have done.

DB at this moment is perfectly physically positioned for an arm grab by

orca. (We know grabbing is a normal orca behavior when
excited/overstimulated, as discussed above.) Per autopsy:
Fractures (see %%, plus a 2x2cm contusion on ventral left upper
extremity superior to antecubital fossa (likely tooth mark) - indicates
DB arm was in orca Tilikums mouth, up to approximately lower-bicep
depth at orca front tooth line, likely palm pronated (palm down) in
tongue-stroking tongue-ticklingmotion. Orca rostrum naturally
extending beyond that =could easily appear like DB head was

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grabbed, if seen by panicked observer from across the way behind the
glass viewing from BEHIND orca body. DB head wasnt grabbed, only
her arm. (Play, accentuated by excited state.)

Possibility: something happened at that moment that caused

orca Tilikums stimulation levels to rise rapidly, encouraging
grab. Given that Iceland orcas repertoire (calls) include whistles
above human hearing range, & also given that we humans really
dont know the range of things captive orcas can be
excited/over-stimulated by, nearly anything is possible. Thats a
reality we humans face as long as we engage with captive orcas.
A gamble apparently we humans remain willing to take, to date.

Will attempt to converge known reports of traumatic human event below. (as

Barrel roll to the left and dove deep with DB in his mouth. Remember as
above, deep dive is a normal swim maneuver for an orca, even an
unstimulated orca, never mind a highly stimulated and excited orca.
Remember also, orca doesnt know that humans cant hold their
breath underwater for long periods of time. The toys the orcas
play with can essentially hold their breath forever. Orca Tilikum only
had food or toys in his pool until these three unfortunate
episodes. (sum to date = normal orca behavior, given scenario)

Shaking violently. Concurrent with orca behavior with toys. Expends

energy. Shoes (any non-wetsuit-apparel) flying off from vigorous shaking
would be expected, given physical size of orca.

Thrashing bubbles, popping up then taken underwater again swam

around pool rapidly with DB (rapid swimming behavior observed prior to DB
incidence = more of the same, highly stimulated orca behavior). Dragged to
bottom of pool = deep dive normal as discussed before. Holding DB on
bottom of pool = normal orca behavior with toy (because, again, toys
dont breathe and orca doesnt know that humans cant breathe
underwater like they do.) Toys do pop back up to the surface when
released, making them even more exciting to retrieve and play with = rapidly
increasing novelty factor, excellent stimulation feedback loop. Sum so far =
non malicious behavior by orca Tilikum: consistent with highly stimulated
orca behavior.

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Slammed twice head on lifeless body (DB likely dead here already) floated
to the surface (probably helped to surface by wetsuit material buoyancy plus
residual air in lungs), he swam to opposite end of pool, turned around and
swam toward DB, gaining speed and rammed DB. Pushing DB with his
nose. Behavior still consistent with overstimulated orca norm: ramming is a
known behavior associated with excited, overstimulated orcas. Pushing is a
normal orca behavior sans stimulation factor, given known orca physicality.
Captive orcas known to ram when overstimulated: very likely to ram/slam
toys in play as well. (Not personal AT ALL to DB as human or female or
trainer.) Physics Addendum note: autopsy shows DB sustained NO rammingrelated injury: which calls into question the actual force of the
slamming/ramming (all human observers were afraid at that time) and again
correlates to overstimulated orca play with toy. Keep reading.

Wouldnt give up prize = consistent with keeping toy behavior, discussed

previously here.

Thrashed around on medical pool lift with Dawns body flailing wildly. =
consistent with over stimulated orca normal behavior, consistent with
keeping toy orca behavior. Expected and normal orca behavior, given
stimulated situation.

Orca Tilikum was almost released after DB body was extracted, but someone
noticed part of DB left arm was still in orcas mouth & had to retrieve it. Had
to pry orca mouth open. Part of DB arm came off in orcas mouth. / Human
arm had become detached due to reputable orca thrashing: thrashing r/t play
by orcas when in excited state. Given known physicality of adult orcas and
the biology of softer humans = expected outcome.

Fact: slapping the surface of the water to get Tilikum to let go of DB =

unsuccessful. Orca not following human cues at that time. Consistent with
highly over stimulated orca behavior.

Other trainers couldnt get into the water to help DB because they too could
have become toys. Given the above scenario, a given. Continually over
stimulated orcas = no human contact at that time = life-preserving wisdom.

Orca had DB by the arm when they were ushered into the medical pool lift.
Fact: IF orca Tilikum had wanted to kill DB, taking her by the
head/chest/abdomen would have achieved that better and orca Tilikum knew

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that d/t orca social training to handle prey. NONE of that occurred. NO kill
move occurred. Arm hold = orca play.

Once DB was taken out of orcas mouth, found no heartbeat. Expected

outcome, given lifeless sighting above, overstimulated orca still ram/slam
playing with toy for a time after lifeless observed state because orca
Tilikum is in overexcited play with toy mode. Humans expecting orca to
somehow notice that DB was lifeless & change behavior especially while
orca is clearly overstimulated/excited - are expecting an orca to see things
like a human does: inappropriate expectation on the human part.

Orca Tilikum followed weighted net thrust and commands through 2 adjoining
pools (a football fields length away) into the medical pool where trainers
lifted both Tilikum & DB, and retrieved DB body.

Fact: orca Tilikum, once over stimulation had been acted out
physically and was mostly passed, followed commands. (Play urge
still present, of course: normal.) IF orca Tilikum had wanted to
maliciously harm humans, he wouldnt have been able to be ushered
into the medical pool (no one can coax a 12,000lb orca anywhere if
said large animal doesnt allow it) and there would have been more
dead humans that day because a malicious killer would have
continued attacking humans within reach (ie. other trainers/personnel
who came to retrieve DBs body). Tilikum did NONE of those behaviors.
Sum so far = non-malicious intent. Accident due to play &
overstimulated orca state.

Cause of death per autopsy: Drowning & traumatic injuries. Source:


Blunt force injuries (BFI) head/neck:


Avulsion of scalp (associated galeal/subgaleal hemorrhage)

Autopsy report Received with body: a portion of the scalp with

attached hair & a fragment of red-pink muscle. (Face, nose
intact) Scalp completely avulsed from head: inferior to
eyebrows anteriorly, to mid-portion of ears laterally, and to
hairline posteriorly.

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Fact: Face and nose intact. Premise: IF orca wanted to

kill DB, IF it was personal to DB: the face would
probably have been involved. Consider the repeated &
regular face contact Tilikum and other orcas exchange
with trainers, many/most for their entire captivity.
Rostrum, tongue, etc: face-to-face, mutual contact has
been a norm between trainers and captive orcas, even
non-water-work orcas such as Tilikum. NO face attack
here: consistent with accidental death of DB.

Scalp avulsion line. Follow me here briefly for

understanding: look back on scalping war practices of
Native Americans performed on those they perceived as
their enemies (other tribes, soldiers & settlers). (Saying
this as delicately as possible): given human biology of the
head (softness outside the hard skull), removing a scalp
was quick and easy. (Im not recommending it by ANY
means, simply stating FACT.) Any neurosurgeon would
likely concur with that fact. Given that: avulsion accident
consistent with over stimulated orca thrashing, deep
diving, human/orca engagement. Given ALSO that DD
(second death noted in detail above) had intact ponytail
in the presence of an unstimulated orca encounter (when,
if orca Tilikum wanted to remove scalps as a hobby, he
had plenty of time to do so while DD body was in his tank
and he did NOT): scalp avulsion ruled as accidental.

DB scalp & ponytail located floating in another pool in the

stadium complex = expected outcome. See above.

Premise: keep in mind toy factor, deep dive factor,

bottom of the pool factors: all discussed at length in this
document. Scalp removal was not personal to DB
(humans) from Tilikum. Again, expected accidental
outcome, given over stimulated orca.

Mandible fx = jaw fracture (left, between left incisor & left canine
w/assoc. hemorrhage). As discussed above. (Could have happened on
initial orca over stimulated grab of DB from the platform, ala
inadvertent orca rostum impact on human head.) Expected result of
play & physical engagement response from over stimulated orca.
Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis
August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured


Fx C7, cervical neck fracture (assoc muscular hemorrhage, epidural

hemorrhage & softening of underlying spinal cord) subdural
hemorrhage around cervical spinal cord ABSENT. NO spinal cord

This fracture was ACCIDENTAL due to play/physical engagement

of over stimulated orca Tilikum. IF orca wanted to kill DB, large
adult orca had full physical means to do so by easily biting
through and severing her spinal cord. NO spinal cord severing
(nor associated SDH) occurred with DB incidence. Evidence of
play again, restated.

Neck: layer by layer dissection anterior musc of neck =

NO hemorrhage. No hemorrhage in the neck = consistent
with above point re: Fx C7 .

Head dissection: epidural & subdural hemorrhage ABSENT.

No SAH or exudate. Cerebrum, cerebellum & brain stem =
(no tumor), NO HEMORRHAGE, (no necrosis). Consistent
with BOTH above points.

BFT torso (chest, abdomen, back, pelvis and hips):


Fx (fracture) post 9-11th left ribs (floating rib). Consistent with human
left arm-in-orca mouth, whipping movements. Discussed at length

Sternal fx @ 2nd rib insertion level. Correlates: related to human left

arm-in-orca mouth, whipping movements. Discussed above.

Fact: NO pelvis, hip, leg or foot fractures. NO wound suggesting

tearing to body (human fears tied to media hype about sharks,
possible carryover emotional concern addressed here.) Human
left arm details & associated biology consistent with play grab
- discussed above. IF orca Tilikum wanted to kill or destroy
DB: these would be other fracture/trauma evidence seen. NONE
of those are present. Read on.

Liver lacerations posterior inferior between right & left lobes.

Consistent with whipping, thrashing play-physicality of orca
movements. Discussed above.

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured


No adhesions in peritoneal cavity (small note in autopsy, not applicable

to orca case.)

CV/heart (nothing unusual, no trauma noted)

Respiratory: R lung 550gms/L lung 510gms (expected human finding),

lung parenchyma congested. Consistent with drowning.

Hepato-bil, Reticulo-endo, endocrine (body systems reviewed, nothing

unusual, no trauma noted in autopsy)

NO trauma to the abdomen noted in autopsy. If orca wanted to

kill DB: likely there would have been abdominal trauma. See
above discourse on topic.

Hemoperitoneum (500cc). Means blood found in the belly cavity.

In light of NO direct blunt force trauma in the abdominal cavity
per autopsy as above, very likely from above noted liver
lacerations combined with being whipped about as discussed

GI: tongue NO bite marks or hemorrhage, stomach ~ 20cc tan mucoid

fluid. No bite marks supports prior conclusion of quick demise/death of
DB. (Review 2nd case DD re: no tongue bite marks conversation if

GU: bladder empty, ok (no trauma noted)

BFT extremities (arms and legs):


Abrasions/contusion/lacerations (ie. lac). Expected. See prior


2x2cm contusion on ventral LUE superior to antecubital fossa. (Left

arm above crook of elbow). Consistent with orca teeth grab point.
(Notice there were not multiple large contusions: as there would have
been if orca had chomped on DB. NO chomping occurred, likely
single play-hold. Playing in excited/overstimulated state.

0.5cm lac & assoc pink contusion on ventral surface of left forearm:
3cm lac on left forearm; 2x2cm contusion on ventral left wrist;

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured

Consistent with orca teeth impact during grab/hold. (Small lacerations,
considering. Play hold, NOT harm or eat bite.)

2x2cm contusion on posterior left elbow. Consistent with orcas right

side of mouth teeth grab/hold.

4x1cm contusion dorsal left forearm: 3x1cm contusion dorsal left

forearm : 1x1cm contusion dorsal left wrist. All consistent with orca
teeth grab/hold/whip.

Complete avulsion of LUE w/assoc. left humerus fracture, exposed lacd

muscle & soft tissue. Consistent with orca teeth grab/hold/whip. (The
physics of the whipping would show powerful shearing forces, forces
that would easily cause avulsion removal - for (in comparison) soft
human biology, easily including bone fracturing. Accidental to event as
described in detail above.

Dislocated left elbow: Dislocated left knee. Consistent with the abovediscussed whipping motion and associated physics. Accidental.

Evidence of drowning: ~ 4ml fluid in sphenoid sinus (NO extra fluid or

adhesions in pleural cavities or pericardial sac). Consistent with
submersion/drowning as primary cause of death, NOT trauma .
Fighting to release self, get to the water surface & get away from orca would
readily consume human air/oxygen resources, air resources available by a
quick short breath taken when DB briefly attained the surface before playing
orca Tilikum took his perceived toy back underwater. (see above
discussions re: deep dives and human/orca VASTLY differing abilities to hold
their breath underwater for lengths of time.) No extra fluid in lungs or sac
around the heart correlates with a quick drowning: consistent with above
mentioned lifeless body observation made by Sea World visitor(s) standing
near the orca tank during this unfortunate incident.

Fact reviewed here for pertinence: being underwater for a long time is a
NORM for orcas. Orcas (in particular captive orcas) dont know that being
underwater a long time is NOT a norm for humans. Third death DB consistent
with SUBMERSION/DROWNING, NOT BFT. Accidental due to clearly over
stimulated orca behavior. RULED OUT.

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured



Each of the three human deaths discussed here are RULED OUT for intention to kill.
All three human deaths associated with orca Tilikum are accidental.

Orca Tilikum and Associated 3 Human Deaths: Analysis

August 2013. Tracy E. L. Poured