SeaWorld Orlando is fighting $75,000 in penalties from a federal job safety agency following last year's death of a trainer who was grabbed by a killer whale and dragged under water.
A hearing is set for Monday before an administrative judge in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. SeaWorld is expected to argue that three safety citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an investigation into trainer Dawn Brancheau's death last year are unfounded.
"These allegations are completely baseless, unsupported by any evidence or precedent and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care," said SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides. "The safety of our guests and employees and the welfare of our animals are core values for SeaWorld and areas in which we do not compromise."
Animal rights activists planned to protest the hearing with signs saying "Throw the Book at SeaWorld!" and "Stop Imprisoning Orcas!"
"The company goes on making money at the expense of animals and its employees," said Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights group PETA, in a statement.