Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Orca, Straight Up

Orca, Straight Up

Tilikum Tilikum come wave your fin.
Make children laugh, let the fun begin,
let the money flow, let the crowd come and gasp,
for death sells many a Family Pass.    

Tilikum Tilikum make us Believe you;
nobody drowned, and we Dine with Shamu
in a cartoon world that's built on denial.
A fin says you'll anthropomorphically smile.

March 2011

Posted for Friday Flash 55 at the G-Man's

Many Pertinent Factoids extending beyond 55 words for those interested:

fin 2:
Slang  a five-dollar bill

from wikipedia entry, Tilikum:   "...Following a year long hiatus after his last killing, Tilikum returned to performing at SeaWorld Orlando on 30 March 2011...

"Tilikum was the feature of the SeaWorld show 'Believe'.....[he]measures 22.5 feet (6.9 m) long and weighs in at 12,300 pounds (5,600 kg), as of 2010. His pectoral fins are six and one half feet long, his flukes curl under, and his 6 feet (1.8 m)-tall dorsal fin is collapsed completely to his left side. He is the largest orca in captivity...[and] has been involved in the deaths of three people. Tilikum was captured near Iceland in November 1983 at about two years of age...

 " ...First incident: While at Sealand, on February 21, 1991, Tilikum was involved in an incident which resulted in the death of a female trainer. The trainer slipped and fell into the tank with the whales. Tilikum, pregnant Haida II, and Nootka IV grabbed her in their mouths and tossed her to each other, presumably playing. The trainer subsequently drowned. The orcas had never had humans in the water with them before. 

Second incident: Tilikum was at the scene of a death on July 6, 1999. A 27-year-old homeless male intruder was found floating naked in Tilikum’s pool...

Third incident: On February 24, 2010 Tilikum was involved in a third incident, when he killed Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer...following a popular 'Dine with Shamu' show as at least two dozen tourists looked on...Tilikum pulled the trainer into the water by her ponytail, possibly mistaking it for a fish or thinking it was a toy. Brancheau's autopsy indicated death by drowning and blunt force trauma..."


  1. Sure is one big killer fish! Props for rhyming Believe you/Shamu. Also love a 55 that ends with an anthropomorphically smile despite the deaths.

  2. How soon bad news is forgotten. Sad.

  3. It's all about the money, MM. Up to me, he'd still be swimming around Iceland.

  4. maybe none of this would have happened if we let nature alone instead of using it for entertainment...i like the repitition of the name hedge it sets a rhythm...

  5. That collapsed fin doesn't look like a smile to me. It looks like depression.

  6. @Brian. Amen brother. (The name is what set me off, btw)

  7. They put Dogs and Tigers to sleep if they have lapses in domesticity.
    Loved your 55 Oh Witch of the Hedge!
    A story with a moral issue is the Best!
    Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End!

  8. @G-Man--I'd let the whale go and put the humans having lapses in common sense due to overpowering greed to sleep. But that's just me.

    And it's always fun to play 55 with you guys.

  9. I don't understand why so many people feel that nature and its creatures are there for our use, however we see fit. From shows like this, to animal experimentation, it shows and proves only one thing: humans are the ones with hubris.

  10. Seeing animals in parks for human amusement makes me very sad.

  11. well delivered message..
    putting all animals to the wild or sea is a solution, blame human curiosity, kids love the show, adults want to do research to protect rare ones from disappearing from the wild.

    bless those who are trapped ..

  12. Hedgwith! I knew none of this stuff, not watching the news DOES have its DISADVANTAGES!

    So an extra thank you for the information, girl!

    My lame excuse for a 55 is HERE

  13. It reminds me of the stories I've heard of zoo animals that attack people. Um, hello? They're caged? How would YOU behave if caged? Jeez, poor orca.

  14. I'd want to swim with the whales if Tilikum was there hmmm

    It is rather tragic that these beautiful creatures are penned

  15. Good, intriguing poem - memorable.

  16. I might want to bite people who confined me to a pool, when my home was the ocean...

  17. Hard-biting commentary, Hedgewitch. And I suppose I intend that pun. "Death sells many a Family Pass" tells it like it is. What's interesting about the details of the deaths is that the whale is seen as being "playful" rather than as being the wild, carnivorous creature that it is. Humans are stupid! You're poem, however, suggests that some higher cerebral activity is taking place among us. Fine write, as usual!

  18. yummm...people taste like chicken... * burp *

    Peace, hp

  19. Only fools pay money that helps keep animals in captivity and supports using them for research. God knows by now we are the utterly most arrogant species on the planet.

  20. I've been to Sea World thrice in the thirty years, the last time staging a corporate employee event. Tikkum was there, making her big big splash. The commercial perversion of it was obvious, but still it was fascinating to see such a huge graceful creature. What a poem there would be about the naked homeless guy found floating dead in his pool. (Something about booze and Florida does this. There's a guy who has twice been found drunk and naked in a lake, both times being chewed on by a gator ..) Orcas are the wrong animals to color a child's book of dreams -- too much of a stretch to make these beasts cartoons -- certainly the hubris of it will continue to fate trainers to their deaths. Minor suggestion: The "fin" in the last line means a fiver, right? The sense of that might be stronger if you put a period at the end of the penultimate line and made the final line a separate sentence. The shadow of Jurassic Park looms heavy over Sea World, fer sure; but then, the foolish creator of that former fictional park was an old school carnie who understood our fear of death to be the greatest show on earth. - Brendan

  21. Great 55; chilling factoids. Cruelty to animals and people, that sure is something we know a lot about.

  22. Mess with the bull, get the horns.
    Mess with the orca, get the teeth.
    Karma's a bitch.

  23. Thanks everyone, for stopping by. I read about Tilikum returning to "work" and the article had a lot of blurbs from parents about how wonderful it was for their kids to see the show again. It stuck in my craw a bit. If you want to watch wild creatures, there are innumerable educational documentaries you can share with your children for a similar or lower price, or if you can afford it, take them on a cruise to see them in the wild. There's no need in this age of technology, to make something like this into a circus act. /steps down off soapbox

    @Brendan-over to you on the naked guy. There was a further detail in the wiki that said evidence showed he had bitten the Orca--*bitten* the orca??? but it had no citation, so I left it off. AFA the last sentence--I though I had put a period there, I write without punctuating except mentally and apparently I forgot to stick it in, thanks.

  24. It's sad that we take wild animals, cage them, and expect them to perform on command. It's disgusting.

  25. Hedgewitch, thank you for your powerful words on behalf of these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures, who should always be free.

  26. According to Sea World, "it was his (the whale's) choice" to go back to work. I just howled when I heard that.

  27. excellent 55 & commentary on the situation ...I heard a blurb this week on NPR and shook my head, as if rising platforms are going to make a difference, talk about fools. let the animals be free ~

  28. Your 55 reminds me of how sad it is that we capture these beautiful creature and it is truly all about the almighty dollar.

    My 55 is at:

    Have a great and happy weekend!

  29. whew, you have a dark water side. wild animals are wild animals, training isn't taming.

    captivity always gave me the creeps. my 55 is HERE

  30. The Child asked a couple days ago to go to Sea World. I said no, place is too depressing.

    I don't even llike caged birds.


    P.S. About to code up and post YOUR button.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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