I'll just put a general question to you and that is to
sum up everything we've been talking about, that there is a perception that
for a period of time, people operating on your behalf were attempting to at
least get around the spirit of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to stash
mammals here and there for future use. ...Did that happen?
No, I have no idea. I'm just gonna tell you something that I am familiar with,
and that's simply when you have animals leaving Japan under export permits
that were collected by ..under Japanese fisheries permits, going into Holland
where they have to have a import permit, and then Gudrun coming to the United
States to has have an import permit from the National Fisheries Service -- all
that paperwork was done and everybody was aware of it, everybody knew where the
animals came from.
The Gudrun permit application for instance, to our US government, had to have
the status of stock of the North Atlantic population, and how the animal was
collected, when the animal was collected, and it's right there in public
record. And you know, I .. that's how it happens within the laws of the home
countries and the United States. If we bring a beluga whale from Vancouver
Aquarium, we have to have a National Fisheries import permit, a Canadian
export [permit] and a US CITES import permit, so there's three pieces of
paper... If you want to storytell and say something ten, fifteen years ago was
done here and done there and done there illegally, I have no knowledge of that.
Sea World does not do anything illegal in terms of bringing animals into our
The movement of Tilikum from Canada to the United States.... Tell me that
story. How did the relationship with Iceland -- the case was referred to the
Icelandic authorities for some sort of clarification on whether or not the
whale should be released. How did that happen?
Actually, Brad's the right one to ask.
... Tilikum was imported under a National Fisheries Services import, which is
a U.S. government agency, and one of the conditions of the permit stated that
we should check with the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries to find out if that
particular animal was a good candidate for release on Icelandic waters. We
went to them, asked them what they thought, and they said, no.
Which mirrored your own opinion?
Absolutely. It mirrored our opinion.
And they knew it?
I don't know if they knew it.
It has become a template now for anything that's going to happen in the
Well, it makes scientific sense. To take an animal that has lived in the care
of man for that many years, eating fish from many oceans and living with
animals from varied backgrounds -- I think there's a concern, even though it's
incredibly small, if your existing natural populations of animals are healthy,
to introduce an animal from that long-term captive environment, carries with it
the risk of introduction of disease in the form of organisms that may be
foreign that environment, and they may be organisms that don't even affect, if
we're talking about killer whales, maybe it won't even affect the killer whale.
It might be something that came from herring, that came from another ocean.
The risks [are] minuscule, but they're still there, and there's just no point
in jeopardizing a healthy environment by introducing a major unknown like
The animal welfare -- and this is, this is sort of the basically the bottom
line here -- the animal welfare people will say that you lobbed a slow pitch to
the Icelanders, to hit a home run, and it's going to -- they're going to have
to deal with it, if they ever do apply to get [other killer whales returned to
We don't play games, and we don't play baseball. The National Fisheries
Service asked the question. We didn't. The Icelandic government responded.
We didn't. We had nothing to do with the question, nor the answer. So whoever
thinks that we lobbed anything into the picture, is absolutely off base.
Something else, I think, that needs to be understood, is this isn't an opinion
that's only Iceland's and only Sea World's. This is a pretty widely held
position -- a lot of conservation biologists, I think, in Canada there was a
document done by a commission, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, that
actually reflects this same concern. I believe also there was one in
Barcelona, Spain. There's a U.S. Navy document which investigated the
feasibility of returning dolphins from the U.S. Navy back to the wild, and the
conclusions come up pretty much the same every time. That to risk the wild
population for a reintroduction doesn't make any sense. There's no real
justification for doing that where a wild population is already healthy.
The documentation on the transfer of Gudrun to the United States from
Holland shows quite clearly that Sea World USA was essentially trading Sea World
Kamogawa animals for the transaction. How could that possibly have
I don't -- I haven't seen that type of paperwork. The only paperwork that I
was open to and that is in our record books today, are the different
governmental exchanges of the animals going from one facility to another. If
Sea World had the opportunity to transfer -- you can't transfer somebody else's
animals, unless you buy them, or you're going to give them something for them
in the future. It's like, it's almost like trading sports -- you'll go to this
club, and in the future, we'll provide you with 2 younger players, because he's
worth this much. I have no idea if that's what happened.
But you say, it would raise the possibility, hypothetically, at least, that
they were really Sea World USA's animals at the Kamogawa facility in
Hypothetically, I can.
Could that possibly be the case?
No idea. Again, the paperwork that I was privy to was simply the government
papers of -- import and exports, and it says, from A to B, and it didn't say
that C owned A and was taking the B for these animals.
But the implication's there, isn't it?
No. Not in my estimation, because of what I saw there was no implication of
If I'm working for Sea World, acquiring a killer whale from an aquarium in
Holland, and I'm trading with orcas from a facility in Japan, it's reasonable
to draw the conclusion that I own the ones in Japan?
And how did you own the ones in Japan? Did you purchase them from the owner
That's a good question. I don't know the answer.
Well, I don't either. It's not impractical that happened. People buy rhinos
at one zoo. Keep it there for years, until their facility is ready to house a
3rd or 4th rhino and then bring it to their facility. People own animals at
other facilities all the time.
Isn't it possible that the animals were basically stored in Japan, for a
rainy day, by somebody representing Sea World USA?
I have no idea.
Is it reasonable, or logical?
Again, I have no idea. Why would somebody store animals for a rainy day? You
move animals from institution to institution to serve the breeding programs,
the gene pool compatibility issues. That's what I do.
I don't store animals in somebody else's facility for a rainy day, and the
implication, I resent.
In the event that you couldn't get a permit, or your predecessors couldn't
get a permit, would it be a feasible proposition to park a marine mammal
somewhere else in the world for a time when you could get the permit to move
that animal to the United States? Would that be a reasonable or a legitimate
I think that's some sort of stretching for storing. But we don't do that.
And never did?
Jim and I are responsible people that work for Sea World. When we came to work
for Sea World '97 -- we don't do anything like you're suggesting...