Killer Whale Attack

In the book version of Deadly Kingdom, I wrote about the first victim of Tilikum, the killer whale. Space prevented me from covering his probable second victim, a homeless man who intruded after hours. I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the third victim, a trainer at Sea World. While explanations for this sort of thing abound, the key factor no one seems to mention in the news stories I’ve read is that, to most other animals, we’re nothing special. We’d like the world to behave according to our values, placing human life above everything else. It doesn’t. One of the key themes in the book, in fact, is this very problem. We see the natural world in all sorts of skewed ways because we’re so deeply invested in our own view, in what benefits us and what we as humans find important. The rest of the world isn’t obligated to agree with us, and the Tilikum story is a brutal reminder that it rarely does.


  1. Not a very comforting analysis, yet it seems perfectly sound. Pop culture is full of romantic notions that apparently collide rather messily with reality. Does seem a shame that animals who act like, well, animals, are so often branded as dangerous outlaws or psychopathic criminals.
    Guess we humans could use our allegedly superior brains to sort that out, huh?

  2. Yes indeed. Back in the '60s a captive pilot whale named Bimbo had to be released because of "psychotic" behavior: he kept knocking the hell out of his trainers and biting his fellow captives. People thought he'd have to be nuts not to enjoy the life of ease in a pool. With killer whales, it's been said that their appearance--they seem to be smiling all the time--contributes to our troubles with understanding them.

  3. When the stars threw down their spears,
    And water'd heaven with their tears,
    Did He smile His work to see?
    Did He who made the lamb make thee?

    Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

  4. From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm. - Edward Abbey

  5. I'm with Abbey. There may be cosmic evil, as Blake implies. . . or there may be evil we, in our arrogance, only think of as cosmic.


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