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Orca Trainer Alexis Martinez, Death at Loro Parque Caused By Known Aggression

January 24, 2011

Orca Trainer Alexis Martinez, Death at Loro Parque Caused By Known Aggression

Originally in December 2009 it was reported that on December 24th, 2009, a highly experienced orca trainer, named Alexis Martinez was performing routine exercises with Keto, a 15 year-old captive orca on loan from SeaWorld Texas USA, when an “accident” occurred that led to the trainer’s death.

In the original posts to the public it was stated there were “no signs of violence to Alexis’s body, either through hitting or biting by the Orca, ruling out an attack; it was a lack of oxygen and drowning that was the apparent cause of his death.”

It was stated that during the routine training exercise Keto basically did not follow the cue Alexis gave to him and instead Keto rammed into Alexis while in the water.

On October 10th, 2010, the news reported that the case regarding Alexis Martinez and his death was under investigation regarding Keto’s “aggression” and “erratic behavior” as the cause of Alexis’s death and lead “the authorities to discuss the desirability of the shows with such animals and warns of the “impossible” the “fulfillment of the most important principle of preventive action, the avoidance of risks”.  The document, seen by ABC is part of the preliminary investigation held by the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1, Puerto de la Cruz, attributes and to show the characteristics of an activity “inherently risky.”

Click here to read entire article 

Or continue to read below for Google translation of above link

Google translation- “The report of the Provincial Labor and Social Security of Santa Cruz de Tenerife derived from the death of the killer whale trainer Alexis Martinez, who died last December 24 because of the aggression “Keto,” one of the four cetaceans exploits Tenerife Loro Parque zoo, called on the authorities to discuss the desirability of the shows with such animals and warns of the “impossible” the “fulfillment of the most important principle of preventive action, the avoidance of risks” . The document, seen by ABC and is part of the preliminary investigation held by the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1, Puerto de la Cruz, attributes and to show the characteristics of an activity “inherently risky.”

The inspection focuses the ‘causality’ of the event in the “animal’s erratic behavior” and because of that, says that “ignore the real causes that motivate the accident.” At this point the report, the technical body under the Ministry of Labour and Immigration states that the “risks” of the mammals ocean activity “are precisely in the interaction with an animal of more than 3,000 kilos of weight.” Thus, it warns that “a course that might be called inherently risky activity, which, by their very nature, it is impossible to fulfill the most important principle of preventive action, the avoidance of risks.” In other words, there is nothing they can do zoos with this type of entertainment to ensure that events like the death of Alexis will not be repeated. In fact, research confirms this: “At this point, we have to agree that the only real possibility of compliance with this principle, the avoidance of risk-would be the prohibition of the activity at its source.”

Thus, the section devoted to the conclusions attributed to “unexpected behavior in animals’ origin of the event, so that in this line, acknowledges that” the main causative factor has not disappeared. ” Of course, the inspection, which did not consider punishing the Loro Parque, reports that “have highlighted elements that should be corrected by the company in preventive management and that are subject to monitoring requirements in the provisions Article 43 of Law 31/1995 on the Prevention of Occupational Risks. ” In any case, and “unfortunately”, reads the text of the research work, the technician returns to the inability of these shows are free of risk: “We can not venture into any case that the corrections in the preventive management referred to in Preventive requirement will pose a future risk avoidance similar to those present at the accident investigation ‘, that is, to co-Alexis,’ since the main causative factor has not disappeared.”

Officials talk
Following the above, the local Labour Inspectorate the root of the debate moves to the authorities, which calls for analyzing the appropriateness of continuing to hold a show that in just over two months, resulted in the deaths of two trainers: Alexis and his companion and friend of the “Sea World” in Orlando, USA, Dawn Brancheau. “Given the particular danger of the activity of these workers, the debate on the elimination of occupational hazards should focus on two points: first, on the authorization or not activities of this nature and, secondly, the level required corrective action once the activity is authorized. “

When compared with the first issue, the report insists that competent authorities are responsible for “analyzing the pros and cons’, while regarding the second and pursuant to the provisions of Article 14 of the Prevention Act Occupational Hazards, judges do not take ‘orders sanctions “against the company. Finally, then, the coach moves to the administration a debate that is getting stronger: delete or not these shows.”

The reports went from

“no signs of violence to his body, either through hitting or biting by the Orca, ruling out an attack; it was a lack of oxygen and drowning that was the apparent cause of his death.”


The autopsy report stated that

“Alexis died due to grave injuries sustained by an orca attack, including multiple compression fractures, tears to vital organs, and the bite marks of the animal on his body.”

It was stressed over and over to the public Alexis’s death was an accident. Yet it was not an accident, it was an act of known aggression and the individuals giving the first hand reports to the public falsified those reports for unknown reasons.

Three of the four Orcas’ on loan to Loro Parque from SeaWorld, LLC are known to be so aggressive and/or violent towards the trainers that no waterwork can be performed with them now. Waterwork is when the trainers get into the water with the Orca’s.

On October 6, 2007, a 7-year-old male orca named Tekoa attacked and nearly drowned one of the Loro Parque trainers, Claudia Volhardt.  At this time trainers ceased water works with Tekoa. During the Spring of 2009,  5-year-old female orca Skyla was also excluded from waterwork after she pushed trainer Rafa Sanchez around in the pool and up against the walls with her rostrum during a show. Less than a year later, on Christmas Eve of 2009, 29-year old Alexis Martinez was crushed to death in the jaws of Keto.

See More for Incidents

SeaWorld has sent four young captive born Orca’s to a foreign land to live in a foreign facility, all without an adult matriarch to teach them orca ways.

Loro Parque had no previous experience with Orcas, nor was the facility for the Orcas even completed on the time of arrival of the four Orcas from the USA.

Loro Parque is known to hire trainers for the Orcas who have NO ANIMAL experience or no specific training. See Article regarding certain irregularities  at Loro Parque.

Kohana, one of the four Orcas at Loro Parque,  just recently gave birth to her first calf sired by Keto, which she has rejected. The trainers at Loro Parque are now raising their calf.

Keto’s History and Personality

Keto is a male captive born orca. He was born into captivity on June, 17th 1995 at SeaWorld Orlando Florida USA. Keto’s mother is Kalina, who died on October 4th, 2010 from septicimia, and his father is Kotar.  Keto is a cross breed of 75% Icelandic orca and 25% Northern Resident orca.

Keto has one older brother named Keet. He also has two half siblings from his mother side, Tuar and Skyla.  Skyla is one of the four orcas loaned to Loro Parque from SeaWorld LLC on the same breeding loan as Keto. He has another half sibling from his father’s side, Takara.

Prior to being relocated to Loro Parque, Keto had been transferred to different SeaWorld parks 3 times.

Keto’s first transfer was from SeaWorld Orlando to SeaWorld California on March 8th, 1999. Keto was less than 4 years old at the time of this transfer, where he was taken from his mother to never see her again.

Keto’s second transfer was only 1 year later on April 15th, 2000 from SeaWorld California to SeaWorld Ohio.

The third transfer was again less than one year later on February 18th, 2001 from SeaWorld Ohio to SeaWorld Texas, where he would spend the next five years living there.

The final transfer was to Loro Parque on February 13th, 2006. Keto was loaned to Loro Parque by SeaWorld LLC on a breeding loan with three other orcas, Skyla, Tekoa and Kohana. The two males and the two females that were sent for the breeding loan are all  blood related.

Sources have reported that Keto likes to “play rough”, challenges older whales, and is considered unpredictable. He is the largest orca, the oldest and the most experienced of the 4 orcas on loan at Loro Parque.  No reports of known aggression have been documented prior to the attack on Alexis Martinez at Loro Parque.

Keto just recently sired Kohana’s first born baby at Loro Parque. The new calf is an inbred  Orca, as Keto and Kohana are blood related. Keto is Kohana’s uncle.

The Loro Parque Cover Up Leaves Lots of Unanswered Questions

Could the lack of experience to properly care for Orcas in captivity at Loro Parque be the reason behind the cover up in the beginning?

Could SeaWorld have played a part in the cover up of the attack since the whales still are owned by SeaWorld?

Has SeaWorld basically abandoned the four Orca’s at Loro Parque? Only 2 months after the death of Alexis Martinez, the death of Dawn Brancheau occurred due to aggression by a “killer” whale, Tilikum owned by SeaWorld LLC where at that time SeaWorld made a public statement regarding Dawn’s death. SeaWorld LLC, to date, has never made a public statement regarding the death of Alexis Martinez, even though SeaWorld LLC technically still owns the whale that killed Alexis Martinez. SeaWorld LLC also never made a public statement when Kohana gave birth to her first-born at Loro Parque. SeaWorld is known to release publicly the births of their new-born Orcas in the USA parks where their Orcas reside.

What does the future hold for the five Orcas Kohana, Keto, Skyla, Tekoa and new baby, Adan along with the Loro Parque trainers ?

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Dabble Babble permalink
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    I am sure there is more to come in the near future regarding these whales.

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  1. Exclusive Interview #3: Former SeaWorld trainer Samantha Berg and the Perils of Orca Captivity (part 1) « The Orca Project
  2. SeaWorld Trainer Death Theory Debunked as a Ponytail Tale « The Orca Project
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  4. The Case Against Killer Whales in Captivity Part 2: A Profile on Tilikum | My Kind of Science

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