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Death at SeaWorld [Paperback]

David Kirby
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.02
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Book Description

9 Oct 2013
Death at SeaWorld centres on the battle with the multimillion-dollar marine park industry over the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity. Following the story of Naomi Rose, a marine biologist and animal advocate at the Humane Society of the U.S., Kirby tells the gripping story of the two-decade fight against PR-savvy SeaWorld, which came to a head with the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Kirby puts that horrific animal-on-human attack in context. Brancheau's death was the most publicised among several brutal attacks that have occurred at Sea World and other marine mammal theme parks.

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Death at SeaWorld + Blackfish [DVD] + The Cove [DVD] [2009]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (9 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250031257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250031259
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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 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 --Various

About the Author

DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, an acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
David Kirby's book Death at SeaWorld documents and effectively engages with the fierce debate about whether it is good and right to keep killer whales (orcas) in captivity at marine theme parks for the purpose of entertaining the public. For his compelling argument, the author employs a wide range of sources: empirical evidence, scientific expert opinions, and numerous interviews with trainers and a host of others. Each chapter is packed with essential information and supports the author's comprehensive argumentation.

In February 2010, Tilikum, a male killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida killed Dawn Brancheau, an experienced trainer, during a public performance. Tilikum is also directly linked to the death of Keltie Byrne in 1991 and Daniel Dukes in 1999. This is not only a human tragedy, but also one for the orca involved--Tilikum. The marine animal display industry has been harshly criticized already for several decades because they maintain orcas (killer whales) in captivity. The horrific tragedy in 2010 is now a catalyst for moving the debate forward. Anti-captivity advocates hope orca captivity will finally come to an end. However, it is not so simple. Dawn Brancheau's death in 2010 has inevitably fueled and agitated the debate even further between pro- and anti- captivity advocates.

Kirby provides critical discussion from both sides of the debate. He vigorously argues with support of insurmountable evidence and source material, that Tilikum, like countless other orcas held in captivity, is a genuine victim of humans' cruel, ignorant actions. The immense revenue generated from killer whale performances only perpetuates the ongoing misery that these animals must endure in their daily lives.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise words on whales 7 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like many, my attention was grabbed by the story of Tilikum the Killer Whale in 2010 when he seemingly intentionally killed his trainer during a public event at Sea World Orlando. What I didn't know until later, and a theme that is explored thoroughly in David Kirby's excellent work is that it was the third death that could have been attributed to this particular whale, and one of a series that occured amongst Sea World whales in the same year.

What I especially liked about the book, is that David Kirby does have an opinion on whales in captivity, but he very clearly tries to explore all view points and all sides of the story. Sea World's views and pursuits are discussed rather than judged, as are those of the researchers involved with wild pods, the former trainers, the current trainers and so forth. Privacy is guarded and respected. Courage, rather than heroes is quietly championed. The pursuit of truth is far more prominent than the sensational aspects of the story, in fact they are very much a back story.

Respect is a key part of David Kirby's work here and is especially apparent in his steadfast approach to the whales situation and those who are trying to help them.

More than anything else, this is a gripping tale. I think the story needs to be shouted from the roof tops, but more than that, the story is a page turner that I couldn't put down. It opened my eyes further on something I thought I already knew a great deal about, and cemented my views on whales in captivity. It should be handed out to patrons as they enter Sea World!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Troubles in Shamu-Land 11 July 2012
Take a large, charismatic big-toothed predator who also happens to be an intelligent social mammal, put them in concrete pools and make millions. To Sea World it was a corporate formula for success. Troubles, conflicts, disasters are more like it. Let David Kirby tell you the real story of Shamu in his new book...Highly recommended.
-- Erich Hoyt, Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation; author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer and other books
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the things we do for entertainment 3 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Why are humans so cruel ? And why do we advocate certain cruelty acts to animals ?

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
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing! 1 Oct 2013
By sarah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
the best book I have ever read, will read again and again. david Kirkby has done an amazing job on this book and together with the people in it are changing the face of the captivity industry!
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!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!
Essential reading for anyone concerned about the ethics of how we treat other species.
Published 4 days ago by Paul Cartmell
5.0 out of 5 stars so it's great to see it all laid out so clearly
I knew a fair amount about the plight of orcas at Seaworld and elsewhere, so it's great to see it all laid out so clearly. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Clare
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This book exposes the whole industry of keeping orcas in captivity. Filled with information on the practice of making these beautiful creatures 'performing' up to three times... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jacqui
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
An interesting and fact filled page turner. Eye opening to the reality of display facilities and whales in the wild.
Published 1 month ago by Katie
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At times i could not put it down. Informative and factual, heartbreaking and compelling. I would full recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by Lanolin
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Research
This book is well researched and gives a good argument against the captivity of whales. It is not as one sided as other reviewers have said, -but it is a subject that people have... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Samantha Grayson
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!
Finished this in 2 days. I was completely caught up in the court case at the end, and had to Google to find out the result - which upheld the judgement against Seaworld. Read more
Published 2 months ago by kitmerlin1564
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a sad state of affairs
Ordered this after watching Blackfish - the book goes into far more detail and left me feeling both sad and angry that with all the data available Orca's are still being kept in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tashi
5.0 out of 5 stars It's hard to ever condone captivity after reading this.
Having researched much on the arguments regarding captivity long before reading this book, this put flesh on the bones. Read more
Published 3 months ago by gina gow
5.0 out of 5 stars Hang your head in shame sea world
After reading this book and having visited Seaworld at least 5 times I will never set foot in Seaworld again. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joe McCaughey
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