By Acadia Einstein
Copyright 2011 Acadia Einstein
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Every single time a marine mammal trainer at a theme park gets bitten by a wolf, it means trouble. And that Sunday was no different. Detective Fisher looked down at his notebook and rechecked the facts. The victim, Dale Barton, was a trainer at Ocean Island, a third tier water park in Pompano Beach, Florida. Ocean Island was really a crappy aquarium with a good gift shop, but it did have one thing going for it: Bjork the killer whale.
Bjork the Orca (most people called her Bjorka) had been whale-napped off the coast of San Diego and transported by train to Ocean Island. The trip was an attraction in itself, with excited children lining up to see the majestic creature at every stop and animal rights groups filing lawsuit after lawsuit claiming that shoving a three and half ton whale into a tank on a rickety train car was cruel. They were right of course but the money that Bjork brought into the park was more than enough to pay the various settlements and things were great for years.
Dale had been hired in 2006 to train Bjork to do tricks. He had no experience, but the owners of the park (Barry and Trina Garfunkel) were both irresponsible and cheap. Their reasoning had been that it was virtually impossible to practice training a killer whale so they had a 50/50 chance of success with Dale. And, unlike their Ninja Throwing Starfish idea, Dale was a huge success.