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DiedAugust 16th, 1971
OccupationSeaWorld San Diego performer (captive)
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) that 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" shows for different orcas 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]