This isn't the first time Sea World protected its corporate interests by hiding information on the dangers of riding around on captive killer whales for shows. In 1987, a trainer was seriously injured by a killer whale at Sea World and he filed a lawsuit:
Video footage showed Orky the killer whale slamming down John Allen Sillick, breaking his bones and crushing his insides.Sea World stated (pdf), and I'm paraphrasing, that the park's owners had wanted the veterinary info sealed because it contained trade secrets and the public was too dumb to understand it anyway. That may be true but I think it's fairly self-explanatory that the whale involved was dead a year later due to a chronic condition.
The accident sparked a lawsuit, but it was not what 10News found in the lawsuit that was intriguing but what was missing. The lawyers for a previous owner of SeaWorld, Harcourt and Brace, had cleared the courtroom during any discussions of Orky’s health, medications, and physical limitations. Then, they managed to convince the judge to seal those parts of the records from public view, forever. . “I have no idea why that case was sealed or who requested it. I can’t comment on it,” said Brad Andrews, Vice President of Zoological Operations with Busch Entertainment.
The judge’s remarks were not sealed and provided tantalizing clues.
They revealed 20-year-old Orky was not a healthy whale. He was partially blind and had “visual limitations not told (to trainer).” Additionally, the whale had limited ability to jump.
A year after he crushed Sillick, Orky died from “acute pneumonia, chronic wasting."
If interested, read the pdf linked above for more fascinating Sea World spin. It's a Q and A between Sea World and Channel 10 News in San Diego. There's so much bobbing and weaving going on, you're left feeling like you just went a couple rounds with Muhammad Ali.