MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – When trainers are working with killer whales, a physical barrier is required between the trainer and the animal for protection.
The Miami Seaquarium has been issued a $7,000 fine for allowing trainers to work with an orca without the barrier.
The citation, issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is considered “serious.”
OSHA says trainers worked with a killer whale in a pool and from the side of a pool without using physical barriers.
OSHA has required physical barriers between trainers and killer whales, or that trainer maintain a safe distance from the orcas, since an administrative judge ruled in a SeaWorld case.
The SeaWorld case stemmed from the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed when the six-ton killer whale, Tilikum, grabbed her and pulled into the water.
In a written statement, the Miami Seaquarium said it would appeal the citation, and that no trainer had been injured by its orca, Lolita.
“We respect OSHA and their attention to employee safety, including the cooperative nature of their investigation and their genuine interest in learning about our operations,” the statement said. “That said, we feel wrongly targeted, given our extraordinary track record of keeping our employees safe.”
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