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DiedAugust, 1971
OccupationSeaWorld San Diego performer (captivate)
Years active1965–1971
Known for
  • Namesake of the Shamu show
  • First intentional live capture of a healthy orca

Shamu /ʃæm/ was a killer whale (orca) which appeared in shows at SeaWorld San Diego in the mid/late 1960s. She was the fourth orca ever captured, and the second female.[1] She was caught in October 1965 and died in August, 1971 after about six years of performance.[2] After her death, the name Shamu continued to be used in SeaWorld "Shamu" orca shows for different whales in different SeaWorld parks.


Shamu was the first known intentional live capture of a healthy orca. The three previous orca captures ("Wanda," Moby Doll and Namu) had been more opportunistic.[2] The very young, 14 foot (4.25m), 2000 lb (900 kg) Southern Resident orca was captured by Ted Griffin off Penn Cove, Puget Sound in October 1965 to be a companion for the orca Namu at Griffin's Seattle public aquarium.[3][4][5] Her name means ‘Friend of Namu’[6] (alternately 'She-Namu').[7] Shamu was sold to SeaWorld in San Diego in December 1965.[3][8]

She was retired from performing after an incident on April 19, 1971, in which she bit the legs and hips of Anne Eckis, a SeaWorld employee who was trying to ride her as part of a filmed publicity event, and refused to release the woman until other workers came to the rescue and pried the orca's jaws apart with a pole.[9][10] The employee had been asked to ride Shamu while wearing a bikini, and had not known that the orca had previously attacked people who wore ordinary bathing suits and was only conditioned to perform with trainers wearing wetsuits.[9] The orca had also been showing signs of erratic behavior and of being upset just before the incident.[9]

Shamu died about four months later, in August 1971.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A listing of dolphin/whale captures..." at
  2. ^ a b c "Stories of Captive Killer Whales," PBS link
  3. ^ a b "SeaWorld Investigation: Secrets Below the Surface". KGTV San Diego. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  4. ^ "The Killer in the Pool", Zimmermann, Tim, Outside Magazine, 2010 July Retrieved 2010 July 12
  5. ^ "Granny's Struggle: A black and white gold rush is on", Lyke, M. L., Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2006 October 11 Retrieved 2010 July 12
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Shamu - Orca Aware". Orca Aware.
  9. ^ a b c Eckis v. Sea World Corp. [Civ. No. 14458. Court of Appeals of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One. November 19, 1976.] [64 Cal. App. 3d 1] ( link)
  10. ^ "Killer Whale Bites Girl In Marine Act Rehearsal". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. April 20, 1971. Retrieved September 22, 2014.

External links[edit]