After video emerged earlier this month of two orcas attacking each other at SeaWorld, talk about the cruelty of marine parks has been reignited. Many dangerous and at times deadly incidents have happened over the years at these parks, one of which was the 1987 attack of a SeaWorld worker by Kandu V, an orca known to be particularly violent.
- Trainer Joanne Webber is lucky to have escaped alive. The incident happened at the San Diego park, with Webber said to have screamed “my neck is broken!” after 6,000-pound Kandu V body slammed her and dragged her to the bottom of the 40-foot deep pool.
- Webber filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld the following year. The trainer did indeed suffer a broken neck and in June 1988, she decided to take SeaWorld and its parent company Harcourt Brace Jovanovich to court. The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that companies allegedly knew orcas were “dangerous” and “likely to attack and injure human beings” but that they had convinced Webber to get into the water with the “safe” and “gentle” animals. The suit also claimed that staff members delayed Webber’s medical treatment by urging her to remove her wetsuit at the park so it wouldn’t be damaged by medical personnel.
- This wasn’t the first time Kandu V had attacked. A few months prior to the incident with Webber, former SeaWorld trainer Jonathan Smith was also attacked by Kandu V, with another orca named Kenau joining in. The assault lasted nearly three minutes, with Smith being hospitalized for nine days with serious injuries including bruised kidneys and ribs as well as a cut on his liver. He also sued SeaWorld for negligence. Webber and Smith’s cases were settled out of court. There were also gag orders, meaning much of the evidence submitted in the case can never be made public.
- Sadly, Kandu V met a horrific end. Despite attacking two trainers, Kandu V continued to peform for SeaWorld audiences until August 1989, when an incident during the “Shamu Show” turned deadly. Kandu V is said to have turned on another female orca named Corky II, ramming Corky with her mouth wide open, breaking her jaw and severing a major artery. She eventually died from the injuries.
- SeaWorld has promised to phase out these cruel shows since 2016. They vowed to stop captivity breeding of orcas and phase out shows that featured the animals performing tricks and dances.