Originally written on The Other Paper  |  Last updated 10/30/14
A controversial ruling regarding SeaWorld's future may lie with federal judges over a decision involving the aquatic parks' most popular draw: killer whales. For decades, orcas like Shamu have been the biggest show at Sea World, but trainers have been banned from close contact with the whales since 2010 when trainer Dawn Brancheau was dragged under and drowned by Tilikum, a 12,000 pound killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando. Federal safety regulators cited SeaWorld for violating workplace safety laws and banned trainers from close contact with the whales unless separated by a protective barrier. SeaWorld is now appealing that ruling and comparing the handler ban to barring tackling in football and posting speed limits on auto racing tracks. "The stakes in this case actually could not be higher," said a SeaWorld attorney. "It's a very, very good point for Sea World to make. Why us and why not NFL or NASCAR? Because let's face it, the show is much more spectacular when the trainers are in the water than when they're just on stage." Trainers do still get close enough to feed and train the animals, but do not get in the water but the government argues that killer whale behavior is simply too unpredictable. We have seen football players in pools and, if belly-flopping NFL bad boy Ndamukong Suh could save Louie Anderson's life on the celebrity diving show "Splash," SeaWorld might have a point. In court documents filed Wednesday, SeaWorld stated that "close contact with killer whales is essential to the product offered by SeaWorld, and is indeed the primary reason trainers and audiences have been drawn to SeaWorld for nearly 50 years." In 2006 at San Diego, SeaWorld trainer Ken Peters was repeatedly dragged to the bottom of the pool until he finally swam to safety. In 2004, another trainer was attacked at SeaWorld San Antonio. And animal rights groups want the captive aquatic show creatures released into the wild altogether. SeaWorld runs 11 U.S. theme parks and had over 24 million visitors last year. Now it worries that without the close hands-on show, the entertainment value will be taken from its pools.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kevin Love injury a powerful argument for playoff reform

Jon Jones wanted for questioning in hit and run

Pitcher throws perfect game with 23 strikeouts, still loses

Will LaMarcus Aldridge leave the Portland Trailblazers?

Wizards sweep listless Raptors


Clippers defeat Spurs, even series at 2-2

JR Smith 'nervous as hell' about possible suspension

Dana White: No more WWE for Ronda Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk for 'bush league' play

Report: Eli Manning not concerned about contract

Several teams interested in Bucs' No. 1 overall pick?

Greg Hardy faces teammate, Cowboys locker room leak

Top 10 storylines for the 2015 NFL Draft

Paul Pierce burns Raptors fans with epic troll job

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

WATCH: Former NBA’er Darko Milicic is enjoying life

WATCH: Alex Gordon leaps into stands for incredible catch

WATCH: JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder in face

WATCH: Kevin Love leaves Game 4 with shoulder injury

Joe Flacco content with current Ravens receivers

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for the 2015 NFL Draft

Paul Pierce trolls Raptors fans

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

Darko Milicic is enjoying life

Pitcher throws perfect game, still loses

Will Aldridge leave the Blazers?

Alex Gordon leaps into stands for catch

Dana White: No more WWE for Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk

JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder

Report: Wainwright likely done for year

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.