I knew Dawn, and obviously I'm still in shock with this whole thing. I've actually done stand-ups with Tili in the background over the years when I do "Whales In the Wild -- Killer Whales," I do my stand-ups there. I just want to say real quickly that if Steve Irwin when he died, he would have wanted his legacy carried on, I know Dawn would have, I know if something happens to me, I would have. Because it's an incredible thing what these folks do. These killer whale trainers are like astronauts, they're like Olympic athletes. Dawn, especially was at the top of this entire group of very few people in the world that are killer whale trainers. It says "killer whale" which means it's a dangerous animal. Just like the guys that work with elephants in zoos, the largest land mammal, things happen. Just like when our space shuttle went up and came back and those astronauts were killed. But what did they do? They went back up into space. You know something? I hope SeaWorld continues what they do.
Now as far as Tili...the news is correct, there were two previous deaths. But let's face it, the one several years ago -- it was not SeaWorld's fault or Tili's fault. Someone snuck into the park, at nighttime, at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, jumped in with the whale. -- That's like me jumping across the fence at a NASCAR race and getting hit by a car. The previous death, yes, in Canada, that was Tili. But I have take my hat off to SeaWorld for taking this animal to SeaWorld where this animal has produced..many babies. That is so valuable to the killer whale population. One last thing, most all animals, most all the whales at SeaWorld, were born at SeaWorld, not in the wild. Ninety-nine percent of our animals born at zoos are born at zoological parks, not the wild. People don't know these facts.
And I can tell you that Dawn was an incredible human being and she loved everything she did, and... I just hope that SeaWorld continues the great work.
They're killer whales, they're dangerous animals, and we all know the jobs we have to do. You know, out of one million plus interactions that trainers have had with whales, this is the first time that someone has been killed at SeaWorld, as far as a trainer is concerned and no one ever swam with Tili at SeaWorld.
Jack Hanna is director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and host of Jack
Hanna's "In the Wild."