A pilot whale got stuck on edge of the aquatic stage during a live show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, for more than 20 minutes, provoking jeers, feet stamping and screams from concerned audience members. One witness, 33-year-old Carlo De Leonibus caught more than 30-seconds of the drama on video, then posted the footage to YouTube.
The audience had already been seated when park staffers announced that the show featuring pilot whales had to be cancelled because of a lightning storm. At some point, a young pilot whale stranded itself on the edge of the pool, then struggled unsuccessfully to return to the water. The video shows other animals in the tank swimming up to their beached colleague in what appears to be an attempt to help the creature.
People in the audience, which included dozens of families, reacted with great concern, shouting and booing from their seats. De Leonibus claims he went to tell a staff member about the situation, only to be told that there was nothing to worry about.
In the video, a voice over a loudspeaker can be heard trying to calm the audience, reassuring them that the pilot whale was not in danger. However, after 20 minutes of thrashing about on the stage, two trainers came in and helped the pilot whale back into the water.
SeaWorld has publicly announced that the pilot whale was never in danger, despite being stuck, and that it is quite common for the whales to leap up onto the edge of the pool for fun. They also said that the whale in question was one of the younger and less experienced animals and thus hadn't yet mastered the technique for getting back into the water.
De Leonibus was visiting the theme park with his wife and 11-year-old daughter. He claims that his daughter has become disillusioned with SeaWorld after the apparent mistreatment of the pilot whale.
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