Animal Park Injuries May Go Unreported

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Animal Park Injuries May Go Unreported


Injuries from wild animals at U.S. marine mammal and animal theme parks may go unreported if they don't require a long hospital stay, a safety review indicates.

The standards for triggering an investigation are high, including hospital stays of more than a full day, limb amputation or injury to three or more employees, said USA Today, which reviewed safety at marine mammal and animal theme parks but not at zoos and circuses.

Most trainer injuries at parks such as Six Flags and at co-owned SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are also not reviewed by federal or state workplace safety authorities, the newspaper said.

Wild animals have killed three people and injured at least 16, with "near miss" injuries sometimes never reported, USA Today said.

"We often learn from near misses," the newspaper quoted Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels as saying.

Animal parks should investigate such incidents to identify hazards and change procedures, he said.

Three killer whales at Sea World -- a chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums and animal theme parks owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, whose private-equity parent, the Blackstone Group, also owns Busch Gardens -- have been involved in multiple incidents, USA Today said.

Killer whale Tilikum, implicated in two deaths in 1991 and 1999, drowned Orcinus orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, at Florida's SeaWorld Orlando in February.

SeaWorld Parks corporate curator Chuck Tompkins told USA Today the company was conducting an "unprecedented review" of Brancheau's death that includes looking into earlier incidents.

Tilikum is not currently performing, he said.