SeaWorld San Diego has been cited for allegedly failing to train workers to safely interact with its killer whales.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued four citations this week that carry nearly $26,000 in fines, according to published reports.
The citations say the park hasn't kept employees aware of hazards involving the orcas. They say employees ride and swim with killer whales in the park's medical pool — although keepers aren't allowed in the Shamu Stadium pool during orca shows.
U.S. & World
The citations were the result of an inspection of SeaWorld San Diego by Cal/OSHA following a complaint.
SeaWorld plans to appeal. It says the citations show a "fundamental misunderstanding" of what's needed to safely care for orcas.
“The citations issued by Cal/OSHA today were not precipitated by any workplace incident, accident or injury, and they reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the requirements of safely caring for killer whales in a zoological setting,” SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz said in a statement.
Koontz went on to state that SeaWorld has made “significant safety enhancements to our killer whale program,” including implementing personal emergency air systems and lifting pool floors.
SeaWorld has battled negative publicity since the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" suggested the treatment of captive orcas provokes violent behavior. It also noted the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in an attack by a killer whale.
In response, SeaWorld has launched an advertising campaign to show the allegations in the documentary are false and that its trainers care and safely work with the park’s animals.