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CNN Larry King Live

Chaos in Chile after Quake; SeaWorld Trainer Laid to Rest; Olympians Discuss Vancouver Games

Aired March 01, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news, panic in the streets in earthquake-ravaged Chile -- looting, fear and now citizens arming themselves for safety.

Is the worst yet to come?

Plus, a SeaWorld trainer is laid to rest today. But the controversy over killer whales in captivity lives on.

Predators or performers -- who's to blame?

And then, Olympic double medal winner skier Julia Mancuso and skater Johnny Weir are here with behind-the-scenes scoop on the Games.


As you just saw -- good evening, by the way.

As you just saw, there's growing desperation in parts of Chile tonight following that massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake on Saturday.

We'll get right to the latest with CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

She's in the City of Concepcion. That's about 70 miles from the epicenter -- all right, Soledad, what's the latest on the death toll and the destruction?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the death toll is over 700. In Concepcion, what they're really focused on is this building right over my shoulder, which is where people have been focused on doing search and rescue. They pulled the body of an elderly woman out today and also they identified the body of a young man who's still inside. They haven't gotten his body out yet.

But you can see behind me -- I'm going to try to explain it, Larry. This is the under side of the building. It was an apartment building like this and then it toppled over.

So what you're seeing is this edge here. Straight through there, going down, would be the parking garage. We're looking up at the bottom of the first floor -- massive rolling of this building. Many people inside. They have about 48 people missing and they're going to continue searching starting at first light tomorrow.

KING: What's the situation on -- on the looting and the lawlessness? What's going on?


KING: We seem to have lost Soledad. I don't know what happened, but it looks frozen.

Anyway, if we can get her back, we'll go right back to her.

Soledad O'Brien on the scene in Concepcion, Chile.

We'll switch to our second topic. If we can get her back, we'll go back to her.

The SeaWorld trainer killed by a killer whale last week was laid to rest today.

Let's go live to Chicago for the latest on her funeral, as we meet Jason Knowles.

Relatives and friends, all gathered to say good-bye to Dawn Brancheau today. She died last Wednesday.

What can you tell us about the service, Jason?

JASON KNOWLES, REPORTER, WLS-TV, CHICAGO: Well, good evening, Larry.

Yes, I was at the service. I got there really early in the morning because I do the morning live shots. And we were there all morning long. And it started at 11:00 a.m.. There were hundreds of people there. Family and friends were all there at the service. And, you know, the family really wanted this to be a very private moment, so the family did not speak.

But we were able to talk to a lot of family and friends that were walking into the service.

And I know that you had mentioned earlier that there is this issue of whether whales should be kept in captivity or if they should be in these shows. And, surprisingly you know, a lot of the people there were saying that they believe that these whale shows should go on, this is what Dawn Brancheau would have wanted.

And it -- it even reflects, too, on the pamphlet or the program here -- the funeral program, you can see, for Dawn Brancheau. It says: "A beautiful life came to an end. She died as she lived -- everyone's friend."

So everybody that at least I talked to at the funeral today was really passionate about that issue -- Larry.

KING: Jason, you're with WLS-TV.

Why Chicago?

KNOWLES: Well, Brancheau is from Northwest Indiana, which is in our viewing area. Her family has a lot of ties to the southwest side of Chicago and a lot of them have union ties and labor ties. And her -- her father, who we were told had passed, had labor ties. And her brother is a big labor leader in the city's southwest side.

So that's where the funeral was. But she's from Northwest Indiana.

And I actually, also, got to go to her high school in Northwest Indiana -- a Catholic high school where, you know, they basically rolled out the red carpet. And even though she's 40 years old and she had graduated about 22 years ago, surprisingly, dozens of people knew her at the high school. We talked to a lot of teachers who remembered her. This was a woman who they say shined, she sparkled. She had quite a personality.

And I actually got to look through a lot of her yearbooks and -- and see all of the pictures.

KING: Wow!

KNOWLES: And she was a -- a homecoming queen, president of the student council. She did everything.

KING: Thanks, Jason Knowles, reporter, WSL-TV.

There is word there will be a memorial service for Dawn in Orlando at a later date.

Joining us now in Miami is J.D. Ordonez, friend and protege of Dawn Brancheau. He got to know Dawn about a decade ago when he started at SeaWorld Orlando as a photographer.

He has worked as a dolphin and whale trainer at SeaWorld and at the -- one of my old familiar haunts, the Miami Seaquarium.

How do you best remember Dawn, J.D.?

J.D. ORDONEZ, FRIEND OF DAWN BRANCHEAU: Inspirational, to say the least. You know, I started working at SeaWorld in Orlando when I was 15 years old. And she watched me graduate from high school, graduate from college and become a whale and dolphin trainer at SeaWorld and both, also, the Miami Seaquarium.

KING: Her sister said that being an animal trainer was her dream job.

Why -- why did she like it -- or love it so much?

ORDONEZ: Well, I can tell you, from my perspective, and, also you know, she felt the same way, was I think it's amazing to be able to have that bond with these animals and to be able to, you know, to take care of these animals in that relationship, as well and to be able to be inspirational and to share -- share -- to share that with -- with kids.

KING: Now, you've worked with beluga whales and dolphins.

Do you ever worry about the risk? ORDONEZ: No, I have not. I never once have ever been placed in an unsafe situation. You know, I've worked and I've been an employee at several marine life parks across the country. And we are trained and safety protocols are followed to ensure the safety of all trainers and our animals entrusted in our care.

KING: And there may be some aspiring animal trainers looking in who feel a little shattered, as obviously they should, by this.

Where -- what would you say to someone who is thinking about doing this for a living?

ORDONEZ: Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to be an animal trainer at SeaWorld. And it was trainers like Dawn and other trainers at SeaWorld, as well, that gave me inspiration to become an animal trainer.

And I just have to say, even though she's not with us today, if she was here -- you know, I got to know Dawn not just within the park, but outside of the park.

If she was with us right now, I could say that, you know, she would want her legacy to be remembered, not the tragedy of what happened.

KING: Thanks, J.D.

Well said.

By the way, we'll try to get an update from Chile sometime this hour. It's not easy to make connections in an area like that, that devastated.

Should whales be captured and forced to perform?

We're going to debate it.

Among our guests, the man who trained generations of Flippers, next.


KING: We have made a connection back to Concepcion in Chile, so we'll go back for a brief moment or so with Soledad O'Brien, our CNN anchor and special correspondent -- Soledad, what can you tell us about the looting and the lawlessness going on?

O'BRIEN: Well, now there's a curfew, so everybody is in, except for this sort of group here. But the looting was really bad today. There was a big fire that took place right next to a supermarket. It was a clothing store. And we're told by several sources that looters have been taking not only food and water, etc. But also clothes. They late -- looted a store where they make keys. They looted a Kodak store -- just pretty much anything they can kick in and take, they have been taking.

So they set that clothing store on fire when there was nothing left to steal inside. It caused a massive, massive fire. Really, you know, and keep in mind that a lot of the bonderos (ph), the -- the firefighters are here doing the rescue work. They work as search and rescue teams, which means they can't be in both places.

So it was interesting to see the resources being pooled across the city. The looters are very aggressive. And I asked, I said, what -- why are you stealing this?

Why are you taking this?

They said, you know, because it's there. We can. It's available. We're angry. No one is here helping us -- a whole myriad of reasons. No one seems that desperate 48 plus hours after the earthquake. It seems more of an anger about a lack of resources and a lack of feeling like people are -- are focused on what's happening here.

KING: Thanks, Soledad.

Where there's trouble, there's Soledad O'Brien.

We'll be checking back with you in the nights ahead, as well.


KING: Soledad O'Brien, a great reporter.

All right, let's meet our panel to discuss the tragedy that happened at SeaWorld.

In West Palm Beach, Jack Hanna, director emeritus, the Columbus Zoo, host of "Jack Hanna's Into the wild." He has a longstanding relationship with SeaWorld- Busch Gardens. He's on the board of the Conservation Fund.

Jane Velez-Mitchell joins us, the host of "HLN's" "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" and athar -- an author, rather; an animal rights activist.

In Orlando, Florida -- great having him with us -- is Thad Lacinak. He is the former head trainer at SeaWorld Orlando.

And in Miami, Ric O'Barry. He trained one of the first captive orcas ever. He trained the dolphins who played Flipper. There were many of them. Since then, he has dramatically changed his stance on keeping marine mammals in captivity. His story is featured in the Oscar- nominated documentary -- a brilliant film, by the way -- "The Cove."

All right, let's start with Ric O'Barry and get into this.

What -- what made you change from a supporter of the idea of SeaWorlds and Sequariums to an opponent?

RIC O'BARRY, FORMER MARINE MAMMAL TRAINER: Well, I got tired of telling that lie about education and research. The fact is, the show I was doing was nothing more than a spectacle of dominance and, in fact, a form of bad education. That had a lot to do with it. KING: Jack Hanna, who often talks about this, how do you respond to Ric O'Barry?

JACK HANNA, BOARD MEMBER FOR THE SEAWORLD-BUSCH GARDENS CONSERVATION FUND: Real quickly, Larry, can I just read -- I just received a letter today from the part of -- a member of the family. One sentence.

Can I take 12 seconds to read this, the last sentence?

KING: Yes.

HANNA: It says: "Jack, I know you knew Dawn and what kind of an amazing person she was. So we just need to smile, light up the room, educate the world, learn from mistakes and grow to help make this world stay a beautiful place and keep it -- all of the amazing creatures in it."

So that said, Larry, you know, I guess, you know, Ric is speaking on behalf of what he believes. And your friend, Bob Barker, and some other people said that on behalf of PETA and the ethical treatment of animals and the two million members of PETA, we'd like to see these whales and dolphins released back in the wild.

I'm here tonight on behalf, Larry, of 180 million people that went to our zoos and aquariums last year, that came there for education and to learn more about the animal world and how they can save it. That's what I'm here all about tonight.

KING: But Ric says the education part is -- is a farce, for want of a better word.

HANNA: Well -- well, it's not a farce, Larry, because we grow and grow each year as we visit these zoological parks and aquariums like SeaWorld. We're going to continue to grow. It's educational, obviously, Larry. People like Ric and like myself and other people, we can get to go out in the wild and see these animals.

But 99.9 percent of the people, Larry, in the world today can never ever go out and see a killer whale, which, by the way, 80 percent were born at SeaWorld, not from the wild; and dolphins, as well.

Now, Ric is one of the few...

KING: All right...

HANNA: -- Ric -- Ric is one of the few people there in the world -- I'm sorry -- with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, that had to pay a $60,000 fine for trying to release two dolphins into the wild -- one of two people ever fined by this institution.

KING: All right. Before we bring in Jane and Thad, do you want to respond, Ric?

O'BARRY: Well, you know, Jack Hanna, what can I say?

He's a -- a died in the wool P.R. hack for zoos and dolphin abusement parks.

What -- what do you expect him to say?

HANNA: I'm very proud of that. I'm very proud of it, too.

KING: You call them abusement parks, Ric?

O'BARRY: I think it's a...

KING: You think they're abused?

O'BARRY: I think that it's abusive to have a sonic creature -- a free-ranging sonic creature in a swimming pool. Yes, that is abusive. And I think we (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: All right, I've got -- we've got two other panelists.

All right, let me take a break and we'll come back.

We've got two other panelists, as well.

We'll bring them in.

Don't go away.


KING: Let's add our two other panelists to the discussion, Jane Velez-Mitchell and Thad Lacinak.

All right, Jane, what do you make of Ric and Jack going at it?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I'm on Ric's side. Whenever you see animal exploitation, follow the money. Larry, this is big business. The Blackstone Group, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, recently bought SeaWorld along with a cluster of other amusement parks for -- I know you're sitting down -- $2.7 billion.

This is about money. This animal in question, Tilly, the killer whale, was born in the waters off Iceland -- born free. And it was kidnapped -- abducted in the early 1980s. And for more than a quarter of a century, it has spent its life going round and round in circles in a tank. The human equivalent would be sticking a human being in a bathtub.

Now, if you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don't you think you'd get a little irritated, aggravated, maybe a little psychotic?

KING: All right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This animal was speaking with its fins, saying get me out of this damn tank.

KING: All right.

Thad Lacinak, how do you respond?

THAD LACINAK, FORMER HEAD TRAINER AT SEAWORLD, ORLANDO: Well, first of all, I'd like to send my condolences to the family of Dawn Brancheau, because that's what this is really about today. And she had her funeral today. And I -- I would like to extend my condolences to her husband, who deeply misses her right now.

And now I'd like to respond to what everybody has said here.

The accusations are ridiculous. I think we need to speak in facts here. Both Jane and Ric O'Barry have their facts messed up. It is not the way they are saying. It is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It's not a for-profit corporation?


KING: Jane, don't interrupt.

Let him...


KING: Jane, let him finish.

LACINAK: I did not speak while you were speaking, so please let me have my say.

KING: All right. Go ahead, Thad.


KING: Go ahead, Thad.

LACINAK: Jane, you are -- you are a newscaster. You have no knowledge of what you are talking about with dolphins...


LACINAK: -- whales or anything.

KING: Jane, hold it.

LACINAK: You have not trained any animals. Ric O'Barry has trained very few animals, back in the 1960s.

Since that time, mainly because he couldn't get a job doing anything else, once he left -- actually, once he was fired from his jobs -- and those are the facts -- then he turned against the oceanariums.

Now, I cannot -- I cannot help that he trained dolphins using dominance theory. That is not the case anymore. Nobody trains dolphins that way in the entire industry. It is all done with positive reinforcement. It's done in a very positive way. And Dawn Brancheau was one of those people that carried it on very beautifully.

KING: All right, Ric, you may respond.

O'BARRY: Well, I've never been fired from any job ever. I walked away from that industry. I could have stayed with that industry. Today when I walk out of this room, I could go to the Caribbean somewhere and set up my own dolphin abusement park and make $4 million or $5 million a he year. But I would have to be a professional liar to do that.

And I'm not willing to do that.

The fact is dolphins are trained...

KING: All right, Jack, and we want...

O'BARRY: -- they're controlled by their food. They are controlled by their food. And he calls this positive reward. The dolphin calls it food deprivation. So it's a word game they play at SeaWorld. And I know the (INAUDIBLE)...


KING: Well, we haven't interviewed a dolphin, so we're not going to know that.

All right, Jack, just so we're fair, you have a longstanding relationship with SeaWorld and Busch Gardens and you make appearances on behalf of them.

HANNA: Right.

KING: So in your position, you -- you may be shaped by financial interests, although I know of your...

HANNA: No...

KING: -- feelings for animals, so...

HANNA: But Ric O'Barry...

KING: Did you want to respond to what Ric just said?

Go ahead, Jack.

HANNA: Yes, if I could. If I could, Larry. I was talking about whales and dolphins way before I even did a show at SeaWorld, way before. And you can document it, by the way, on your show, Larry, when...

KING: Yes, I know.

HANNA: -- (INAUDIBLE) and two whales collide.

Now, let's go back, Larry, to what -- I go with something that has a record. That wouldn't be Jane or Ric. They are maybe good at what they do, I don't know. But I'm saying, records speak for themselves. Tens of millions much people have gone to SeaWorld. SeaWorld, Larry, has released more whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manatees into the wild than any conservation company in the world.

They have also spent more money on research than any conservation company in the world. The records -- you know, we all go with records. Records speak for themselves, what these folks have done. Eighty percent of killer whales born at SeaWorld, you know, there -- there are a lot of killer whales out in the wild, Larry. These are ambassadors to their cousins in the wild.

We have to teach people, Larry, about our animal world in the wild. If we don't, Larry, we don't have time left to save these beautiful creatures. And education is the number one way to do it...

KING: All right, Jack...

HANNA: -- and SeaWorld is the best.

KING: All right, Jack, in fairness, though, because a million people go doesn't mean that they're doing it right. It means that the people are enjoying what they see, right?

HANNA: Right. Larry, you're correct.

KING: I mean one doesn't...

HANNA: But...

KING: -- one doesn't mean the other.

HANNA: Well, Larry, not necessarily.


HANNA: When -- last year, when 92 percent of the people were surveyed leaving SeaWorld, they say it was the most phenomenal educational things they've ever seen, not just entertainment -- edudol -- educational things they've ever seen to watch a magnificent killer whale, this living creature, there.

How are you going to love something, Larry, unless you see something?

SeaWorld provides us with that.

KING: All right...

HANNA: You can't love something and say something unless you see it.

KING: Jane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: well, wait a minute.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Larry, can I...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute... VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- read from the SeaWorld Web site?

"This seasonal show is a rock 'n roll concert of unprecedented proportions combining improvisational movements of killer whales with music remixed from some of the hottest rock stars in the industry."

That is not education. These animals are -- are meant to be in the wild.

Do you know that whales can travel 100 miles a day in the wild?

They travel in pods or packs of up to 60 whales. They're very family- oriented. The whales often spend their entire lives with their mothers in the sea. They have an intricate communications system. They're incredibly social. All of that is disrupted when they're put in one of these tanks.

KING: All right. I'll have Thad respond...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you want to talk about education, this is...

KING: I've got to get a break again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- sending the wrong message.

KING: Hold it.

We'll be right back with Thad's response.

Don't go away.



DIANE GROSS, VICTIM'S SISTER: When you talked to her about the whales, it seemed like you were talking to her about the children. She'd tell you who's acting up today and who's not behaving. And she just loved them to death.


KING: We're not going to resolve this tonight, but it sure is interesting.

Thad Lacinak, how do you respond to Jane Velez-Mitchell?

LACINAK: Well, Jane was talking about the killer whales traveling 100 miles a day.

KING: Yes.

LACINAK: The only reason killer whales in the wild travel that far at any given time is because they're hunting for food. There are killer whales up in the Puget Sound area that hang around in areas in small coves where the salmon population is high during certain times of the year and they don't move from that area because that's where their food source is.

Animals move and travel different distances for -- because of the food supply. And that is the only reason -- and for breeding purposes. That's all.

I'd like to address this just from the standpoint of facts. I have 35 years experience training killer whales. I've done it all my life, since I was 20 years old. I have worked more killer whales and trained more killer whales and dolphins than anybody in the world. I have trained more trainers in how to train animals than anybody in the world.

When I was at SeaWorld, I had 400 trainers under my -- under my staff.

We teach using positive reinforcement. We do not use food deprivation at all. Nobody uses that anymore. That was what was going on back in the days when Ric O'Barry was training, back in the '60s, before I started. That all changed in the '70s. There is none of that. And I can't help it if he utilized the wrong methods. But he's still talking about things that he does not know anything about. He has not...


LACINAK: -- trained a dolphin in 30 years.

KING: Ric, isn't that a fair point?

If you have not done it in a long time, how do you know what they're doing now?

O'BARRY: Well, I have done it and I do it all the time. I have rescued and untrained dolphins in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil and Haiti. And, Larry, on the 24th of December, a SeaWorld killer whale killed its 29-year-old trainer, Alex Martinez (ph).

Did you hear about that?

That was 60 days ago.

KING: What...

O'BARRY: These things -- these things...

KING: Why...

O'BARRY: -- are more common.

KING: Why didn't we hear about that?


KING: I didn't hear...

O'BARRY: Maybe you did...

KING: We didn't hear about that.


O'BARRY: Well, SeaWorld showed up the next day. I'm talking to trainers now at Laurel Park (ph) who tell me that SeaWorld showed up and had the body cremated on December 25th, the very next day.

Now, we haven't heard about it. But we're going to hear about that and we're going to start hearing about many trainers at SeaWorld that have been very seriously injured, filed a lawsuit, were paid millions of dollars and signed a paper saying, I'm not going to talk about this.

And my heart goes out to...


O'BARRY: -- Dawn's...

HANNA: Larry, Larry, Larry...

KING: It seem obviously, Jack...


KING: All right, go -- go ahead and finish, Ric.

O'BARRY: My heart goes out to Dawn, too. She didn't have to die. That was not an accident. That was a calculated risk that SeaWorld took.

Look, Larry, if you and I went out and captured a -- let's say a wild tiger and put it on our private property and this tiger already killed two people, you would think the third time we would be arrested for criminal negligence.

And we're calling for an investigation into SeaWorld, because this has been covered up for too long.



KING: I'm going to let Jack Hanna respond...


KING: We thank Jane Velez-Mitchell for being with us.

Coming onto a panel will be the famed actress and animal rights activist, Tippi Hedrin.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're now joined by Tippi Hedren, the lovely actress, animal rights activist. You'll all remember "The Birds." She, by the way, will receive a lifetime achievement from the Humane Society later this month for dedicating more than 40 years of her life to the protection of animals.

We'll get her a chance to sound off on this, but we're going to go to Jack Hanna, because I want to give equal time to everybody, and it's his turn going around. Jack, the statement that -- wouldn't it be obvious that whales would have a better time being free than being captured?

HANNA: Not necessarily, Larry. No, because Thad said it very well; 100 years ago, man would go 100 miles looking for food. Before I say it, Larry, one statement he made about investigating Sea World -- I hope they do. Here's the thing, when men go up to space in the shuttle and they come back and our astronauts are killed, that's because they wanted to discover space, find out more about what it can provide to the human world.

Why do you think our good friend, who you knew very well, Steve Irwin gave his life? He would tell you today, he did it for the animal world and what we can teach people about it. Dawn would say the same thing. Myself, if something ever happened to me, I would hope that people would say, that's what Jack loved to do, because, Larry, that's what we're here for.

This is a job. It's not something that Dawn was forced to do, or Steve, or myself. We're here because we love it, and we know what the results will be, Larry. It will be millions of people educated about our animal world.

I think Tippi, who I know very well -- I admire Tippi. She's done an incredible job. I've been to her place. I hope she agrees somewhat with what the zoological world and aquarium world does.

KING: Tippi, you have said that Tilicum, the killer whale, what that whale did last week was retaliation. Is that the the word?

TIPPI HEDREN, ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Absolutely. I really mean that, too. First of all, I would like to just make a statement. There is absolutely nothing that we can give a wild animal in captivity that they need, not one thing. That goes whether it's the lions and tigers that we're saving out at the preserve, at Chimbala (ph), or a whale or any wild animal.

KING: They're still animals, so what's wrong with learning from them?

HEDREN: You can learn from them without having to keep them in this.

KING: Jack's point of view, how many people can get to go around the world and see whales moving 100 miles?

HEDREN: He also made a statement that you can't love something unless you see it. What about all of the dinosaurs kids love? They have never seen a dinosaur. You don't have too. Of course, they're extinct. Absolutely, they are. How many kids just absolutely love the dinosaur.

KING: You think Sea World shouldn't be?

HEDREN: I don't think Sea World shouldn't be. The circus shouldn't be, if they have wild animals in it. Absolutely, it's all wrong. I mean, it's abuse that we're all able to look at. We see it all the time.

KING: What's the defense of that, Thad?

LACINAK: Well, I think, number one, the defense is that Tippi, you are an excellent actress, but I think you need to stick with your craft. You don't know anything about training killer whales or training dolphin or what we do at Sea World. If you ever went to Sea World, you would be amazed at what we are learning about these animals. We now know how to take care of these animals. If they were to go extinct tomorrow in the wild, Sea World could provide that that wouldn't happen.

These places are necessary. We are learning about these animals. We now can use artificial insemination because of places like Sea World. And Dawn Brancheau herself was one of the trainers that made that successful. She is one of the trainers that helped us make that milestone at Sea World, the last few years.


LACINAK: To say that these animals -- we cannot learn anything from them is like sticking your head in the sand. We're not going to do that. Sea World is not going to do that. Sea World is not going to release this killer whale and never should. It would condemn him to a horrible death, just like Kako. Kako was released and he died of starvation and pneumonia one year later, after he lost a couple of thousand pounds. Those are the facts. Some more facts --

KING: The arguments seem strong on both sides. We'll get right back to Rick in a moment, Tippi. But they seem strong on both sides. I listen to both sides and find myself nodding. He seems right and you seem right.

HEDREN: You know, I take an objection with my being an actress and not knowing anything about the animals. Since 1970, I have been working with the lions and tigers that are born in the United States to be sold as pets. I formed the Chimballa preserve through the foundation which I founded. I've had one on one dealings with these animals. And after so many of us were hurt, I finally said, why are we doing this? And why aren't there laws in the United States that stop this insanity of having these animals being --

KING: We're talking about Sea World.

HEDREN: I know we are. It's basically all the same thing. The whales are in a place where if you were to -- they were given birth in an ocean for a reason. They need that amount of water.

KING: We have a not, by the way, before we go to break. Rick made some allegations about Sea World. We have not been able to confirm them, as our CNN check crew was not to confirm them. We'll continue our debate right after these quick messages.


KING: OK. We're back. I'm trying to figure out whose turn it is, because this has been so kind of back and forth. It's really hard, very difficult debate. Let's take a call, see what the viewer might have. Tampa, hell?

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I'm just curious to find out from your panel if these whales and these dolphins know that this is not their natural habitat, that there's a different lifestyle for them?

KING: Do they know about it, Jack.

HANNA: No, I think Thad can answer that better. Thad, why don't you answer that, because he's -- most of them were born in this habitat, so they don't know. Go ahead, Thad.

KING: Thad, how would you answer that?

LACINAK: That's the main problem with this whole debate. People that work with animals and train animals on a daily basis, using the techniques that we use a Sea World and around the world now, with dolphins and killer whales, can answer that question. People with emotions, that try to put human emotions to these animals, are going to say, yes they're pining for the wild.

These animals are worried about -- and all they worry about is if their needs are being met. And their needs are being met at these facilities. One way you can tell that is because they breed and they propagate in captivity. Sea World has had over 20 killer whales born at the Sea World parks and successfully. That is one of the ways in which you can tell that everything is fine with the animals.

They have a social group there. Tilikum has a social group with these other animals. So yes, for these people to say, because they're emotional about it and idealistic about it -- they want to believe these whales or dolphins sit around thinking about being in the ocean -- I can guarantee you that's not what is taking place.

KING: Rick, do you feel guilt over what you've done previously?

O'BARRY: Wait a minute, Larry. I'm sorry. But a man lost his life here, and these two guys representing Sea World are being very he quiet about that. You may not have been able to get your staff to confirm what I said, but that's a serious thing. Now, if Alexis Martinez (ph), 29 year old trainer, was killed by a Sea World killer whale on December 24th, just a few months ago, certainly they would know about it. If they don't know about that, what else don't they know?

KING: Jack, do you know about it?

O'BARRY: Why don't you ask them. HANNA: Yes, I heard that. I don't know the facts of it. You're correct, Rick. You're correct. So what do we do, Rick?

O'BARRY: You don't know the facts of that? You don't know the facts about that?

HANNA: What did I just say to you, rick?

O'BARRY: That's absolutely astonishing.

HANNA: Really, is it really? I'm not here --


O'BARRY: Do you know about John Silick (ph), who was almost crushed to death by one of the orcas at Sea World.

LACINAK: I know about John Silick.

O'BARRY: Tell us about the -- tell us about -- tell us about December 24th --

LACINAK: I'm trying to speak right now.


KING: Thad, do you know the story?

LACINAK: Well, if I'm allowed to speak. If he's going to butt in, I'm not going to say anything.

KING: Go ahead, Thad.

LACINAK: I know about John Silick. I also know about what happened in the Canary Islands. Yes, there was a young man that was killed in the Canary Islands by a killer whale. And it was during a show. That's all I know. I have not worked for Sea World for two years. I do not know the particulars of it and how it happened. But yes, I do know about that.

HANNA: Larry, what is the problem --

KING: There are risks in everything. Jack, go ahead.

HANNA: You said it, Larry. What about our astronauts? What about certain things in life. What are you saying, Rick? I don't understand what you're saying. It's called a killer whale. This is a dangerous animal. This is a job we have. Killer whale, Rick. You should know that.


LACINAK: My five-year-old daughter gets it. Habitat dictates behavior. Habitat --

KING: Tippi hasn't been heard in a minute he and a half. Let's get Tippi in.

HEDREN: You know, these animals who they say are so happy -- you know, it's like the animals in the circuses, where they're beaten into doing the stupid tricks that they have to do.

LACINAK: You cannot compare the circuses with Sea World.

HEDREN: I will compare it because it is the same thing. These animals are taken out of their -- wait a minute. I let you talk. You let me talk.

KING: Quickly, Tippi.

HEDREN: These animals -- you talk back they get enough food. They don't get enough food. They eat by the schools of fish out in the wild. They swim for hundreds of miles every day. This is not any kind of a --

KING: I'm sorry. We have to do more on this. How about a show about those fish? What chance do they have? I just thought of it.

HEDREN: I want to make one more statement. When they came out and they said, oh yes, the show is going back on the air, and Tilikum will be in the show, I thought, you know what? This is kind of like during the crusades when the Christians were, you know, thrown to the lions. I mean, this is -- everybody is --

KING: Thank you.

HANNA: This is from "The Birds," Larry.

KING: Thank you all very much. The Olympians are here, Julia Mancuso and Johnny Weir. They're answering your questions. Send them to, or Tweet us at KingsThings. They're next.



KING: Julia Mancuso is the most decorated US female Olympic alpine skiers, winning two silver medals in Vancouver, one in the downhill, the other in the super combined, won gold in Torino. Johnny Weir is an Olympian. He finished 6th overall in figure skating in Vancouver. He's a three-time US national champion. He's going to be showcased in the Sundance Channel documentary series "Be Good, Johnny Weir."

Julia, you have two silvers, right brought them both with you.

JULIA MANCUSO, OLYMPIC SKIER: Yes, I brought them here.

KING: Is silver a defeat for you after you win a gold in Torino? What is it to you?

MANCUSO: Silver's good . I mean, you definitely want to win going to the Olympics. But after having that gold and knowing what it feels like to be on top of the podium, really when you're in the Olympics, just participating is like winning the gold. To be able to come out with a medal is an amazing thing.

KING: Johnny, you didn't medal. so what was the feeling like for you?

JOHNNY WEIR, OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: You know what, I did my absolute best performances that I possibly could. I'm a figure skater, so it's a little different than racing down a course and being judged only by a stop watch. You can't please everybody. But the thing I'm most happy about is the way I was able to perform at the Olympic games.

KING: Julia, you had an alleged rift with the medal winning teammate Lindsey Vonn. What was that all about?

MANCUSO: Well, just like in ski racing, you -- I've grown up with Lindsay since I was 10. We've been competing against each other. We do things a little differently. It kind of turned into this thing that we're enemies, just because we don't march to the same beat of drum. So we kind of get along off the hill, and never get in each other's way. It's just unfortunate she crashed in front of me in the giant slalom, and I had to go up again. I think that kind of jump started everything.

KING: Did they start you too fast after that?

MANCUSO: They changed the intervals because of the weather. So they wanted to try to get the first run over with --

KING: Did you get a raw deal?

MANCUSO: It was a raw deal. I felt like Johnny, you know, you get judged. It's like almost being unfair. Being in a judged sport and not getting the scores because you don't have a fair shot. It's tough.

KING: Do you take umbridge with judges? Do you say, they're wrong?

WEIR: Of course I think everyone's wrong. When you're not the one standing on that podium, you want to blame everyone. I'm a very over- exposed person, I suppose, in some ways. For figure skating, it's a very staged sport and it's very difficult to please everyone politically. So I think -- I think it's natural. I mean, I got into figure skating for the art of it, as well as the sport, and how much I love it. And, you know, I do everything that I want. I march to my own drummer. Sometimes people have an issue with that, and I can't control it.

KING: It is subjective, isn't it? Judging?

WEIR: Absolutely.

KING: When we come back, we'll give you a sneak peek at Johnny Weir's upcoming episode of "Be Good Johnny Weir." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: I'm holding one of the two silver medals that Julia won. Her mother has the gold at her house that she won in Torino. We have a sneak peek at an upcoming episode of "Be Good Johnny Weir." Here's Johnny talking about the Vancouver Olympics and how he's sometimes judged. Watch.


WEIR: With the short program, I proved to myself that I'm still a great skater. Now I want a medal and there are 11 other skaters that would like to see me fail. The skating community is very fickle. And with me, they're especially fickle for whatever reason. Maybe I bring it on myself, but if you don't prove yourself and you don't skate consistently, then they can very easily write you off and bring somebody from behind you and put them in your place.


KING: Julia, you're in a dangerous sport. Been hurt a lot?

MANCUSO: I've been lucky enough to not crash too bad out there.

KING: Ever broke a leg?

MANCUSO: Never had anything broken. I had a hip surgery, torn labrum in my right hip. Then, a couple years ago, I was dealing with a compressed disk.

KING: What age did you start skiing?

MANCUSO: When I was three.

KING: You naturally take to it?

MANCUSO: Yeah. My parents are skiers. My grandparents are skiers. They'd drop us off at the hill. I'd head on out there and chase my sister around.

KING: Lots of questions Tweeted. People want to know what's next for both of you. First I'll ask Johnny. Johnny, they've been pushing for you to be picked as a competitor on the new season of "Dancing With the Stars." The new cast is scheduled to be announced tonight. Are you going to be one of them?

WEIR: You know what, I haven't heard anything. Unless "Dancing With the Stars" knows something that I do not, I will not be part of "Dancing With the Stars" this season.

KING: Would you do it, if asked?

WEIR: You know what, I would love to do that. I think it would be an amazing thing to learn to dance. Because despite the usual idea of a figure skater, I have no rhythm when it comes to even walking off the ice. I fall off curbs all the time.

MANCUSO: That's hard to believe. KING: That's why they haven't asked you, probably. Maybe they'll do it on skates one day. We have a question from our Facebook page: what kind of opportunities do you get after you receive a medal? Julia?

MANCUSO: Well, yeah, it's -- I mean, just coming on Larry King, that's a pretty big opportunity.

KING: What about money-making opportunities?

MANCUSO: Well, I guess all eyes are on you in the Olympics. So definitely there's a lot more sponsors and people interested in what I'm doing. So it's a good -- you're on the world stage. So to be able to perform and show America definitely brings more opportunity.

KING: There's a professional ski tour, right?

MANCUSO: Yeah. We have a world cup ski tour. That's going on all the time; 38 Races in every year that we don't even compete in the Olympics.

KING: Another question from Facebook: Johnny, the question is, how does it feel to be so fierce?

WEIR: Larry, I never heard -- I never thought I'd hear you call something fierce.

KING: I didn't. The Facebook did.

WEIR: I know. Still, you said fierce. Kathy Griffin would be very excited for you right now. But I suppose being fierce is a very good thing, and a very cool thing. But more than fierce, I think I'm a strong person and a strong individual. And that's what I take with me every day.

KING: Were the Olympics fun, Julia?

MANCUSO: They were a lot of fun. It was so nice to be so close to home. I had all my family there cheering me on. That was the best part about it, to look up in the crowd and see everyone.

KING: You live by Lake Placid --

MANCUSO: Lake Tahoe.

KING: Lake Tahoe, so you're right nearby.

MANCUSO: Yes, short drive away.

KING: Were you in the closing ceremonies?

MANCUSO: No, I went home to see my family. I actually had a welcome home party. So that was fun.

KING: Johnny, were you in the closing ceremonies?

WEIR: I was not. I actually had to come home and get some work done. I was just excited to get home and sleep in my own bed. I mean, I did everything that I went to the Olympics to achieve. And walking in the closing ceremonies, it was better to sit on my couch in my underwear and watch it.

KING: Our guest last week, by the way, we just learned, Evan Lysacek, will be on "Dancing With the Stars." He won the gold.

WEIR: Congratulations to Evan for his gold medal and "Dancing With the Stars."

KING: You think he'll do good?

WEIR: I hope so. He has a lot of rhythm, and he's definitely determined to be the best at everything he does. So i hope he -- I hope he excels with "Dancing With the Stars," and gets a good partner.

KING: Julia, where do you ski next?

MANCUSO: Next I'm going to Germany for world cup finals.

KING: Good luck to all of you, to both of you. Great having you with us. All of you -- I exaggerated. That's it for tonight's edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

Jerry Brown, the attorney general of the state of California, has a big announcement. It's coming tomorrow night right here. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."