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Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity Paperback – July 2, 2013
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“Should some of the most social, intelligent and charismatic animals on the planet be kept in captivity by human beings? That is a question asked more frequently than ever by both scientists and animal welfare advocates…Now the issue has been raised with new intensity in Death at SeaWorld by David Kirby, just released in paperback.” ―The New York Times
“Kirby makes a passionate case for captivity as the reason orcas become killers (and) tells the story like a thriller. His argument is, for the most part, fair and persuasive… We probably can't free the orcas in captivity today, but we could make the current group of captive killer whales the last.” ―Wall Street Journal
“A chilling depiction… Kirby lays out a compelling scientific argument against killer whale captivity” ―New Scientist
“A gripping inspection… Hard to put down.” ―Booklist (***Starred Review)
“Brilliantly and intensively researched and conveyed with clarity and thoughtfulness, Kirby's work of high-quality non-fiction busts the whale debate wide open… Reads like a thriller and horrifies like Hannibal Lector.” ―San Francisco Book Review – FIVE STARS
“Kirby says people do not realize that whales often live with the same pod from birth and that when marine parks take them from their pods they are separated from their families… The killer whales then, in some instances, take out those emotions on other whales, which doesn't happen in the wild as much.” ―CBS This Morning
“Thanks to investigative journalist David Kirby, we are now equipped to consider (attacks in captivity) in context. His book is packed with facts about killer whales and the stress caused by keeping them in captivity and asking them to perform for humans. ” ―NPR.org
“Nature has a way of biting back. The true story told in the 2012 scientific thriller Death at SeaWorld exposes the dark side of America's most beloved marine mammal park. From the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 to other less-publicized incidents, the book chronicles the perils of attempting to subdue the species.” ―Al Jazeera
“David Kirby, author of ‘Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity,' has posted a persuasive rebuttal. SeaWorld as much as self-indicts its orca practices as indefensible.” ―Chicago Sun Times
“Death at SeaWorld dismantles the carefully crafted industry myth of animals who are content to live in small tanks and perform tricks for spectators” ―All Animals Magazine
“David Kirby, whose recent book ‘Death at SeaWorld' traces the history of killer whales in captivity, found that Tilikum was captured off Iceland in the early 1980s when just two years old. He was kept in a tiny covered pool for two years before being sold to a marine park in Canada which closed after he drowned a trainer. Kirby says Tilikum is a very disturbed and dangerous animal.” ―Sunday Times (UK)
“Recent publications like David Kirby's ‘Death at Sea World' are increasing recognition of the great wrong being done to the mind in the waters by continuing live captures and captive breeding of orcas. Some orcas in captivity do attack and kill or injure their captors. Tilikum, once captive at the former Sealand in Oak Bay, has killed three people.” ―Victoria (BC) Times Colonist
“'Death at SeaWorld' by David Kirby was just released in paperback. (It) tells a story of intelligent animals that, while often friendly to humans, nevertheless carry with them what some argue is inevitable psychological damage due to captivity.” ―Nature World News
“Detailed and thorough…Kirby writes objectively, and with a clear vision when discussing the history of killer whales in captivity. He also shows how SeaWorld is a microcosm where smiles are required.” ―Metro Montreal
“Death at SeaWorld, a 2012 exposé by David Kirby, is a comprehensive account starting from when the first orca was captured up until 2012, when OSHA hit SeaWorld with safety violations. It has helped change and educate the public about orcas in captivity.” ―The Manitoban
“Kirby shows that the reality (of orca captivity) is more akin to a circus, in which any benefits are outweighed by the cost to the whale – and sometimes to the keepers.” ―Financial Times
“Thorough and disturbing… One of the great books of the summer.” ―Columbus Dispatch
“SeaWorld got a firm slap in the form of journalist David Kirby's fascinating and deeply disturbing book.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“An outstanding book… very-well written, extremely well documented, and timely.” ―Psychology Today
“#1 Readers Poll Choice for Summer Books” ―Wall Street Journal Online
“An informed narrative that strongly suggests that despite their name, only when captured do the mammals become dangerous to humans. Free Willy, indeed.” ―New York Daily News
“Kirby has done his homework and does an excellent job of educating the public about orcas in the wild, as well as highlighting the dangers inherent in keeping these highly evolved, intelligent animals in captivity.” ―Examiner.com
“A masterful work.” ―Seattle Post Intelligencer
“Eye-opening poolside reading… Death isn't supposed to pop up in environments carefully choreographed for family fun.” ―San Francisco Bay Guardian
“A real-life scientific thriller.” ―Barnes and Noble
“One of the summer's most anticipated new releases” ―Apple I-Bookstore
“Well written, well studied so as not to come across as a misinformed or ill-informed journalism (as if we had any doubt), two sided, and done with a lot of emotion to help draw the reader in as if you were reading a murder mystery. Done like a true novelist... Definitely a five star review and a two thumbs up.” ―Artists On Demand
“A new book examining the dark side of keeping killer whales in captivity has slammed SeaWorld for its treatment of the enormous beasts and for massive safety failings which still haunt the world famous marine parks.” ―Daily Mail (UK)
“Fascinating, shocking, even infuriating, but ultimately rewarding… Discover the majesty of killer whales, the inherent cruelty of their captivity and the passion of those who fight for their freedom.” ―Shelf Aware, Online Book Reviews
“A page-turning book… a disturbing account that will be hard for SeaWorld to transcend… Kirby makes it horrifyingly clear how serious (captivity) can be for human safety and orca well-being.” ―Wayne's Blog, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States
“Even if you're not an animal nut like me, David Kirby's Death at Sea World is a fascinating book.” ―Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons and leading animal-rights activist
“An exhilarating journalistic achievement--the reporting is singularly deep and wide, the research enormously meticulous, the storytelling as gripping as in a great novel.” ―Talking Animals with Duncan Strauss, WMNF-FM, Tampa
“I was sent a pre-release copy and can't put it down… Get a copy of this book. It's about time it was written.” ―Fayetteville Observer
“Kirby's knockout format is articulate and mind-blowing. This riveting read is not one that will easily be dismissed.” ―Digital Journal
“Lives are at stake here, and Kirby can be trusted to tell the story, having won a passel of awards for his investigative work.” ―Library Journal
“ Journalist Kirby offers another passionate industry exposé ... the narrative goes into high gear with its concluding confrontation.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Simply superb… David Kirby has left no stone unturned. He has successfully refuted the arguments put forth by the pro-captivity advocates.” ―Philosophy Book Review
“Get insight into this excellent story by David Kirby about the human-amusement park's treatment of these animals via his book, Death at SeaWorld.” ―Sacramento News Review
“Captivity disrupts (orca) behavior in practically every manner. Contrary to marine mammal exhibition industry claims, orca lifespans are significantly shortened in captivity.” ―Animal People Magazine
“I particularly enjoyed this book. It reads very much like a novel to the point when you are staying up later than you should to finish it.” ―San Juan Island Update
“The bottom line of these findings is that keeping these magnificent beings in confinement is not a good thing.” ―Wild Time Radio TCR-FM (UK)
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I personally think only dogs and cats are domesticated to "pet" stage, and even those animals are not truly tame. Shark feeding, all those type activities that take away an animals true nature/habitat are wrong; and sometimes very cruel.
Dogs as service animals, cats as pets; otherwise leave then alone, unless we need them for food; and even then animals need to be treated with kindness and respect.
Human beings are turning what could have been an Eden into a war-torn, polluted dump, and we're all, innocents and otherwise, going to pay, sooner or later, and even as I write these words.
Top international reviews
I have been aware of the issues surrounding the captivity of whales and dolphins for some time before reading Mr Kirby's book. I ordered the book wanting to know more about the plight of these animals and the psychological strain it puts on them. I found the book somewhat disappointing for the following reasons:
1. There is a lot of supporting evidence to back up the premise that keeping dolphins and whales in captivity cannot be justified, but I feel the `thriller' style of the book compromises the message that needs to be heard. The book essentially uses sensationalism, shock and horror to awaken the public (but sometimes, we need that).
2. The book also spends too much time on Naomi Rose. Great swathes of the early part of the book is spent on the life and ruminations of Naomi Rose and I was left wondering what role does this woman play in this book other than being a token orca researcher. There is little mention of other pioneering scientists in the field of wild orca research. In addition, I came to dislike Dr Rose as my reading progressed. This is not a reflection of the individual, but Mr Kirby's representation of her. She came across as a sanctimonious, arrogant person.
3. There is no continuity in the book. The chapters jump around on different topics. One moment you're reading about the incidents at SeaWorld and the next you're reading about Dr Rose's personal struggles.
4. There appears to be a lot of `artistic licence' used in this book. For example, I find it hard to believe that former SeaWorld trainers and others would remember verbatim conversations that occurred more than a decade ago.
This book had so much promise, but for me, it has failed to deliver. Marine parks must be stopped and only hard science and public opinion will sway the legislators. Mr Kirby had the ammunition, but people who are not familiar with the research and the plight of orcas will only read the sensational bits and not grasp the bigger picture.
Notwithstanding my comments, the book is a valuable source of information and adds o the argument that these creatures must be released.
David Kirby not only highlights the truths that go on in the animal entertainment industry but he also sticks his neck far beyond what others would do or say .
Watch Blackfish which accompanies this book and you will see the foolishness people will do to become stars if these so called trainers are that passionate about whales and dolphins surely studying these wonderful creatures in the wild would be more rewarding than teaching them tricks and completely stripping them of all dignity .
ex trainers say they didn't know of any captive whale attacks so that tells me if you're daft enough to go into a pool with a wild creature without researching first then are you really capable of anything remotely responsible.
Has anyone heard whales cries when their young are taken away from them maybe the bosses at seaworld should perhaps see for themselves mind you unless there are dollars attached to any act of business I am not sure they would care.
thank you David Kirby and to the makers of Blackfish
My heart goes out to the families of people who have been killed by the imprisoned marine mammals. They were acting with the best of intentions because they loved the creatures they were trying to take care of.
A very sad story and even more upsetting because the parks are still open and unfortunately still making a lot of money from this "business"!!!
the orca winnie holds a dear place in my heart as it was due to her that I became obsessed with orcas, I was so happy to see her mentioned in the book but at the same time so sad, this book will challenge you views on captivity what ever they may be before you read it. not only does it show the love trainers have for the orcas they work with but also the events that can and have ended trainers and whales lives.
David Kirkby well done sir and I intended to tell you this in a privet messege on facebook as well.
I would recommend this book to any and everyone!