Ken Wheatley was an American mercenary and big-game hunter. He is known for his involvement in removing de-extinct animals from Isla Nublar in 2018, as well as acting as a security force at the subsequent events in Lockwood Manor. He died on June 24, 2018 due to an animal attack.
The male given name Ken, often short for Kenneth, is of Scottish origin and means “handsome.” There is coincidentally a Japanese name Ken which means “good health” or “intelligent,” but Ken Wheatley is neither Japanese, in good health (he is dead), or intelligent. The surname Wheatley comes from Old English and means “from the wheat meadow,” usually referring to farmland. Ken Wheatley’s ancestry obviously comes from the British Isles.
At present not much is known about Ken Wheatley’s early life. He appears to be American (at least based on his accent and the political beliefs he held as an adult), but his place and date of birth are not known. The actor chosen to portray him, Ted Levine, was born in 1957; this may give some indication of when Wheatley was born.
Wealth and power drew Wheatley, and this eventually led to him becoming a mercenary and hunter. He was able to make himself into a commanding masculine presence, demanding the respect of underlings. This was especially effective among the politically conservative, for whom traditional masculinity is highly valued. Wheatley, whose career necessitated that violent conflict and big-game hunting were supported by those in power, aligned greatly with the right wing of American politics. He came to oppose animal rights and feminism.
Having an authoritative personality made Wheatley an effective mercenary leader, but he seems to have eschewed close friendships with the men under his command. Apparently, Wheatley avoided any relationships that could have emotional meaning; in the extreme right, such relationships are often considered weakness. Wheatley’s only loves were the feeling of power over others that his career gave him, and the rich rewards his employers provided. Enjoying the ability to order men around, Wheatley came to rely heavily on his mercenary teams without realizing it. His own skill as a hunter grew lax.
He also began taking trophies from his victims, at least the animals he was paid to track down. It is unknown if he was ever paid to kill humans, or if he would take trophies from them as well, but by 2018 Wheatley held no qualms about killing those he politically disagreed with. This sentiment had grown rapidly in the 2010s in the United States, and Wheatley was far from the only member of the extreme right who was gearing up to kill those on the liberal side of the political spectrum.
Removal of animals from Isla Nublar
The world learned in 1997 that a company called InGen had brought dinosaurs and other species back from extinction through advanced scientific techniques. In 2005, an attraction called Jurassic World opened on the remote Costa Rican island of Isla Nublar, where these revived animals and plants were shown to the public. The park operated for ten years before a disastrous animal escape caused it to shut down permanently. Its operating company, Masrani Global, abandoned the park and its creatures to their fate. This was met with protest from Claire Dearing, the park’s former Operations Manager, who argued that corruption in the company had caused the incident; she founded an organization called the Dinosaur Protection Group to advocate for the animals’ rights. Already big-game hunters were attempting to avoid United Nations quarantine enforcement and land on Isla Nublar to hunt its creatures, the rarest and most exotic trophies on Earth.
Political controversy began to mount in 2017 when it was discovered the island was becoming volcanically active. A volcanic mountain called Mount Sibo was showing signs of pending eruption, and when that happened, the dinosaurs would be wiped out. The American government was devoted to taking no action, allowing the animals to die off and giving the scientists who made them a clean slate to start with. It would also mean the government would not have to bother with the DPG any longer, since their cause would become non-existent. Opposition to the DPG came from the highest levels of the U.S. government: the President himself, of whom Wheatley was an avid supporter, questioned the existence of the dinosaurs in the first place.
But Wheatley would soon find himself directly involved with the dinosaur business. He was contacted by an American financier, Eli Mills of the Lockwood Foundation. Mills’s employer, Benjamin Lockwood, had been one of InGen’s founders in the 1970s. Mills knew the government was likely to do nothing for the dinosaurs, but also understood the animals to be of enormous financial value. In fact, the rarer the dinosaurs got, the more money people would pay to have them. Mills was arranging a secretive auction to sell dinosaurs captured from Isla Nublar to the world’s wealthiest at the Lockwood estate, and needed someone to catch the animals for him. Wheatley, intrigued by such exotic game, took Mills’s offer and prepared a mercenary crew for the mission.
Volcanic activity was already at a worrisome level when Wheatley and his men, on board the Foundation-owned S.S. Arcadia, landed at Isla Nublar’s East Dock. A base camp was established in an area they could clear of threatening wildlife, and the East Dock was occupied for loading and unloading. The mercenaries had orders to hunt down and capture specific species from the island. The buyers’ interests were varied, everything from pharmaceutical development to cage fighting, as well as a few looking just for private ownership (for example, a Texan oil baron wanting a baby Triceratops for his son). Wheatley, who does not seem the type to know much about dinosaurs, was probably briefed on the different species by Mills. In addition to the various animals meant for the auction, he had special orders to capture a particular Velociraptor from an InGen training program, one designated Blue. This raptor could be identified by the blue stripes on its body, and was believed to be the only one of its kind left. Wheatley was promised a hefty bonus if he brought that raptor in alive. Its purpose to Mills was left confidential, and Wheatley was not the kind of man to ask.
Many of their target animals were large enough to find easily, but tracking them down across the hazardous and overgrown landscape was no simple feat. To hunt their quarry, Wheatley equipped his men with the finest tools Lockwood money could buy, including a fleet of resilient heavy-duty vehicles and specialized holding cages. As they caught their prey, Wheatley chose some of his favorites and took trophies. He could not kill them, lest he lose some of his reward, but he pulled teeth from his favored animals: painful, but not lethal. His tooth collection grew to include many of the types of animals on Isla Nublar.
Blue, however, eluded Wheatley. This raptor proved a highly intelligent foe, knowing the terrain well enough to out-maneuver the mercenaries and even injure some of them before escaping. With the volcano growing ever more unstable, the need to catch Blue became more dire. Mills began developing a plan. To catch Blue, they needed to track her down, and InGen put tracking implants in all its animals. But those were deactivated when the park was closed nearly three years ago, and only senior park staff could turn them back on. They would also need someone who knew Blue well enough to avoid attack and aid the mercenaries in their capture.
On June 22, the government announced that (as predicted) they would take no action with regards to Isla Nublar. Mills used this to his advantage, putting his plan into action. He enlisted the help of Claire Dearing, leading her to believe that the Lockwood Foundation was mounting an illegal rescue mission. She and two of her Dinosaur Protection Group leaders would come to Isla Nublar under the impression that Wheatley was bringing the dinosaurs to a safe haven on the Arcadia. As Mills had hoped, Dearing was able to recruit Owen Grady, a trainer from InGen Security’s raptor program. He had raised Blue and understood the animal better than anyone. The DPG would be arriving to the island by airplane around midday on June 23, so Wheatley and his men put on their best humanitarian facade.
Upon their arrival, Wheatley briefed the four newcomers about the situation. Only one of Dearing’s team members had what it took to impress Wheatley: Owen Grady, the raptor trainer. However, Grady took an instant dislike to Wheatley, souring any chance at camaraderie they might have had. Still, Wheatley tried his best to maintain a friendly face and play along with the fake plan. They would head north after passing through the Main Street area, using whichever gates between sections of the island were still serviceable, and eventually reach an old radio bunker from which they could track Blue. Accessing the bunker would be up to Franklin Webb, Dearing’s anxiety-ridden technician, and once inside they would use Dearing’s handprint ID to activate the tracking system. Grady would then aid in capturing Blue. The fourth of Dearing’s team members, the paleoveterinarian Zia Rodriguez, was Wheatley’s biggest problem; she was a hotheaded feminist, and he failed to recognize any importance her role held.
They progressed through a gate toward Main Street and out of the area they had secured. Two Caiman CMTV armored cars led the convoy, followed by a Caiman FMTV for transporting Blue via cage. Dearing’s team occupied Wheatley’s Caiman, and he attempted to be cordial toward them as they reached Main Street, inquiring whether the place held bad memories for them. Grady asserted that some of their memories of Jurassic World were good, too. They encountered a huge Brachiosaurus, one of the island’s oldest animals, and then continued north.
Passing through the central valley of the island, they eventually reached the radio bunker. Wheatley held doubts that Webb could really get them inside, but the young man did manage to unlock the blast doors and gain access. They restarted the power in the deteriorated bunker and used Dearing’s handprint to access the computer system, locating Blue using the park’s tracker codes. A dense collection of tracker signals appeared at the East Dock, forcing Wheatley to admit that they had already captured a large number of dinosaurs. Blue was heading toward the southwestern slope of Mount Sibo, not far from their location but in a dense jungle. Wheatley and Grady set to move out; Rodriguez insisted upon coming with them, though Wheatley suggested she should stay behind for her own safety. Rodriguez, a former Marine, argued that she could handle dangerous situations and implied that Wheatley and his men did not understand how to properly use their tranquilizers. If he protested further, he might jeopardize their operation by showing his hand too soon, so Wheatley begrudgingly allowed the paleoveterinarian to come along.
They drove westward across the island, heading farther into the densest part of the cloud forest. Upon nearing Blue’s location, they had to trek on foot, Grady leading the way while Wheatley’s men remained concealed. Rodriguez also stayed back, since Grady was the only one that Blue might trust. Soon, they located Blue’s nesting site, where the raptor came out to confront Grady, but recognized him. They had agreed to wait for Grady’s signal before moving in to capture the dinosaur, but Wheatley was tired of cooperating: Blue was located, and they had no further need for Grady or any of Dearing’s team. He had one of his men hit Blue in the neck with a tranquilizer dart, sending the animal into a panic. The mercenaries closed in to prevent her escape, angering Grady.
One of Wheatley’s men leveled a gun at Grady from behind, intending to shoot him, but Blue spotted the would-be attack and pounced. Knocking Grady aside, she pinned the man to the ground and drove one of her claws into his skull. Before the man died, he drew his sidearm in panic. Wheatley shouted to the dying man not to shoot, but his words were not heard: the mercenary pulled the trigger, shooting Blue in the side once. She fell off of him, but it was too late for the man, who died within seconds. Grady rushed Wheatley in a rage, but Wheatley shot Grady in the chest with a tranquilizer, stunning him. Rodriguez intervened, removing the dart before a lethal dose could be delivered. She threatened retaliation, but was heavily outgunned; instead, she bargained with Wheatley, reasoning that no one among the mercenaries knew how to treat a wounded animal. This was reasonable, since if Blue died Wheatley would not get his bonus, so once again he begrudgingly allowed Rodriguez to come along. He gave an ultimatum: if she could not save the dinosaur’s life, Wheatley would shoot Rodriguez, and this time he wouldn’t be using a tranquilizer.
The mercenaries at the bunker were ordered to seal Dearing and Webb inside and evacuate, and Grady was abandoned in the jungle. Of Dearing’s team, only Rodriguez had a chance at surviving. Loading onto the Arcadia suddenly became a matter of urgency as a large explosion occurred at the volcano, signaling a huge eruption in process. He contacted Mills to inform him that he had succeeded in capturing Blue, even if she was in bad shape, though he could not speak long as they needed to rush to the East Dock and finish loading. As they moved the last of the captured dinosaurs onto the boat, the eastern face of the volcano collapsed, driving numerous animals into the sea. Helicopters returning to the East Dock for evacuation had the opportunity to capture more dinosaurs by scooping them from the ocean, including Isla Nublar’s last surviving Tyrannosaurus rex. Volcanic debris began to pummel the harbor, so the loading process was hastily finished and the mercenaries scrambled to get on board. The Arcadia pulled away from the dock, one of their Unimogs making it on board at the last second, and escaped Isla Nublar as the island was engulfed by fire and toxic gas.
2018 auction and death
Rodriguez was left to tend to the wounded raptor while the Arcadia sped north across the Pacific Ocean. They took a full day of nonstop travel to reach the Lockwood estate near Orick, California. No incident befell them on the trip, and the men were finally able to get some rest. When they arrived, they docked at a private harbor, unloading the vehicles in convoy formation to transport the animals to Lockwood Manor. Blue had made a full recovery, and Wheatley reluctantly kept his word and let Rodriguez live. She could not be turned free, so instead she was conscripted into work beneath the manor with a scientist called Henry Wu. Underground, there was an old laboratory which Mills had refurbished and modernized; its cages had once held consumer biologicals developed by InGen, and now they would hold the dinosaurs. Wheatley oversaw the delivery of each animal to the loading dock. The creatures were transferred into new cages and lowered into the sub-basement, where they were stored for the auction. Mills had delivered a fantastic venue as promised: the estate’s massive garage had been refitted into a grand auction hall with space for dozens of high-paying guests. A catwalk down the center was attached to the garage’s cargo elevator, which would bring the dinosaurs’ cages up from the sub-basement lab for display. Wheatley would act as head of security for this event, after which Mills would pay him handsomely.
While the convoy was moving in, Wheatley was radioed by one of his men with a concerning development. The man, a guard on the estate road, claimed to have spotted Owen Grady and Claire Dearing at the wheel of one of the Unimogs. Recalling how one of their vehicles had stalled, was abandoned, and then made it on board the Arcadia at the last second, Wheatley realized what must have happened and took a small security force to apprehend the activists. Easily overpowering the two, Wheatley took them to the manor and imprisoned them in one of the unoccupied animal kennels. He went to fetch Mills to decide what to do with them. At first, Mills tried to appeal to Dearing’s better nature, and tried to instill feelings of guilt in both of them for their part in making all this possible. Grady threatened to break Mills’s arm, but was forced to back down when Wheatley made it clear he would shoot Grady in retaliation. Instead, Dearing was the one to injure Mills by slamming his face into the bars of her cage; this amused Wheatley. Since it was clear the prisoners would not cooperate, Wheatley implied they should be killed. Mills did not have him do this, but decided to leave them in the cage until he made up his mind. If there were no other way to dispose of them, they would starve to death eventually.
Soon enough, the auction’s guests began to arrive under cover of darkness. There were buyers from every corner of the world, and from every ethically-questionable walk of life: some of them were quite dangerous and Wheatley’s mercenaries now acted as a security force. Wheatley himself was stationed outside the loading dock, where the back entrance to the garage-turned-auction-hall was located. No one would be able to sneak into the site, or access the sub-basement lab where the dinosaurs were being held, without him noticing.
The auction went without issue for the first half of the night. Wheatley knew little about what was going on inside; all that mattered to him was his payment. Animals that had been sold were sent up the cargo elevator to the loading dock, where they were moved into shipping containers and driven off to their buyers. Some were destined for airports to be shipped internationally, while others traveled by road to destinations within North America. At the halfway mark of the auction, a commotion could be heard within the garage. People suddenly started rushing out through the loading dock and other exits, pushing past Wheatley’s security men and running for their cars or just fleeing into the woods. Apparently one of the animals had gotten loose: a small but aggressive dinosaur came running out of the loading dock, ramming people out of the way in its own bid for freedom. It quickly vanished into the woods before Wheatley or any of his men could catch it.
Wary that Mills might try and give him the slip without paying his bonus, Wheatley entered the auction hall to find it in a state of disarray. The people inside had disappeared; his security men were gone too, probably trying to regain control of the situation. In fact, the only living thing in the auction hall that Wheatley could see was a strange dinosaur unlike any he had seen on the island. The prospect of getting a trophy from an animal so mysterious, perhaps the only one of its kind, quickly distracted Wheatley from his search for Mills. Despite its aggressive posturing, it went down almost immediately when Wheatley hit it with two tranquilizer darts from his rifle, and he unlocked its display cage to enter.
He attempted to pull one of the animal’s teeth with his trusty set of pliers, but this proved harder than any of the Isla Nublar dinosaurs. As he worked, Wheatley became aware that the dinosaur was moving slightly, and he began to wonder if it was fully unconscious. He caught sight of its tail wavering in the air, and as he was distracted, the dinosaur suddenly leapt into action and seized his right arm in its jaws. Using its arms, it pulled Wheatley’s body away, tearing his arm off at the shoulder and swallowing it whole. With his remaining arm, Wheatley crawled back away from the creature, but he found himself backed against the wall of the cage. The creature, evidently taking pleasure in tormenting Wheatley, toyed with him for a short time before diving in and tearing off pieces of his body. Wheatley was savaged for several seconds, the creature eating him alive, before he finally died from this massive physical trauma.
Wheatley’s remains, if anything were left of them, most likely lay in the cage until after the incident. Authorities searching the manor to assess what had happened would probably have been the ones to find and eventually identify whatever parts of Ken Wheatley were left behind. The stomach contents of the creature, which escaped and died due to Wheatley’s intervention, would have contained parts of his man as well; they were partially digested and mixed with the bodies of several other people.
Ken Wheatley played the role of the big man, using his imposing figure, smug and domineering personality, and air of confidence to command the respect of other men. He was especially effective at commanding conservative men, since he was open about his own political views and proud of the callous disrespect he held for people who disagreed. He did not form close friendships during missions: unlike some commanders, who make themselves into father-like leaders, Wheatley’s strategy was to portray himself as someone who inherently deserved obedience and did not need to earn it.
His reputation as a commander of men was apparently widely known, but it does not seem that he regularly went on missions with the same people. Instead, it is likely that his teams consisted of whoever was available at the time, and that he had no trusted team members. His style of command would be conducive to this: although Wheatley appeared as a bold and strong leader, he cared more about getting his reward than anything else, so men who served under him might not have any particular interest in joining him again.
Wheatley lacked tactical skill. This was what he recruited underlings for; he directed them around, but gave them just enough freedom to make decisions that he would not really have to. Then, if the mission was a success, he could take credit for how well things went. People who perform this effectively can even convince the real workers that they did not actually do the work, and that all honors go to the boss.
Although he fancied himself an expert big-game hunter, Wheatley was actually quite bad at it. He relied heavily on those under his command to do the work for him; it could be that his over-reliance on support caused his hunting skills to dull, or that he was never a particularly good hunter and took a commanding role to cover up this fact.
His boastful and overconfident persona caused him to frequently underestimate his quarry. On Isla Nublar, he failed to capture a Velociraptor for some days, eventually having to recruit outside help to track the animal down. His death, even, was a result of his poor skill with animals. He was fooled by an Indoraptor feigning unconsciousness, coming within striking distance and being killed. Assuming things about the physiology of an unknown animal is a deadly mistake for a supposedly experienced hunter. His skill with animals in general was rather poor, and he showed signs that he did not consider it a valuable practice at all; this was another downfall of his cocksure personality.
Since his men did most of the shooting for him, Wheatley’s firearms were mostly for show, but he did know how to use them if he had to. He carried weapons such as a 4″ Smith & Wesson Model 500, which he used as a sidearm. During the 2018 incidents, he wielded a custom-modified tranquilizer rifle. On two occasions he utilized it to down his quarry, but on both occasions he fired from close range and so would have been hard-pressed to miss. Paleoveterinarian Zia Rodriguez highly implied that Wheatley did not have any understanding of the dosage he was administering to his targets, and he did later show a serious lack of knowledge regarding tranquilizers.
Wheatley’s handling of weapons, and direction of his armed underlings, was heavily tied into his hypermasculine image. He and his men would sometimes point the barrels of their firearms directly at animals they were not currently intending to shoot, seemingly just to appear tough to one another. This is a serious safety blunder and one of the fundamental guidelines of gun handling in either hunting or combat scenarios, but one that Wheatley seemed to consider himself exempt from.
Wheatley’s main skill was portraying himself as an authority figure among conservative men by appearing masculine, smugly confident, and ready for a fight. However, he did have a limited ability to get along with his enemies by pretending to care about them and their beliefs. This was tested to its limits during the 2018 operation on Isla Nublar, in which he had to cooperate with animal rights activists in order to capture his target. He managed this for a couple hours, struggling all the while, and then finally to his relief was able to attempt to murder all four of them.
Sometimes, Wheatley would show false compassion or feign empathy as a way to mock others. By prolonging this charade, he could trick others into thinking he was on their side, but his real intentions had a way of showing through. Even if he managed to appear an ally, his condescending tone and edge of hostility were hard to completely eliminate.
Ken Wheatley was extremely conservative, following the pattern of far-right extremism that became prominent in the United States beginning the the mid-2010s. Like most of the American far right, Wheatley’s persona and traits are heavily influenced by the reactionary pundit Donald Trump, who was President of the United States at the time of Wheatley’s final mission. Wheatley could even be heard using the phrase “nasty woman” to describe a feminist, a phrase which Trump created and popularized among his fan base.
Wheatley’s reactionary beliefs drove more than just his political leanings. They seeped into the essence of his personality, becoming the core of who he was. He eschewed compassion, and in fact all emotions other than anger and smugness. These are hallmark characteristics of the American extreme right, who consider stereotypical “alpha male” behavior to be the ideal type of personality. Other emotions, especially those associated with empathy or sympathy, are considered weak and unmanly. Only behaviors that radiate strength are permitted. Every facet of Wheatley’s behavior exemplified the ideal masculine image of the far right, and he maintained that until the minute of his death. Only when he was forced to come face-to-face with death did his guise crack, allowing him to experience a few moments of sheer terror.
In terms of the controversy surrounding de-extinction, Wheatley was mostly indifferent. This field of science has become highly politicized, but for the most part, the debates do not concern things that Wheatley cared about: the environment, animal welfare, scientific discovery, and biosecurity were matters for those of a more politically liberal mind. Wheatley’s own idol, Donald Trump, questioned the existence of the dinosaurs at all and opposed efforts to rescue them. One can assume that Wheatley took a similar stance until he was hired for an illegal animal trafficking mission to take the dinosaurs off of Isla Nublar. At that point, de-extinction suddenly became something of importance to him.
Wheatley had no interest in saving the dinosaurs from extinction, either for protecting them from harm or protecting the scientific achievement they represented, nor was he interested in finding a way to keep de-extinction from affecting natural ecosystems. Instead, the dinosaurs provided Wheatley with the opportunity to tackle the world’s rarest game, and though he was not permitted to kill them by his employer, he could take trophies. During his time on Isla Nublar, he harvested teeth from the species he captured, amassing a modest collection. One dinosaur in particular, Blue, was of special importance to his employer and represented a substantial bonus in his paycheck. Blue’s role in scientific research was unknown to Wheatley, who likely considered it unimportant anyway. He did not live long enough to get his bonus: another creature involved in the same experimentation ended his life when he tried to take a trophy from it.
On animal welfare
In line with his political beliefs, Wheatley saw no inherent value in non-human life and treated animals only as resources that existed for his exploitation. Mostly, he saw them as means of personal entertainment, chiefly at their expense. Wheatley’s career saw him lead teams to track down and kill or capture exotic animals at the behest of wealthy employers, and he frequently took trophies from these animals once his men caught them. On Isla Nublar, these trophies came in the form of animal teeth, extracted while the animals were alive and semi-conscious. In these cases Wheatley could be seen actually taking cruel pleasure in the fact that his victims were in pain. For some people, causing harm to the vulnerable can enhance their own feelings of power. Ken Wheatley appears to have been one of these people.
Some of Wheatley’s most conservative views regarded women and the role they should be permitted to play in society. He opposed contemporary feminist notions, especially where women in leadership roles or combat were concerned; he was known to describe confident or belligerent women using the conservative anti-feminist dogwhistle “nasty woman,” which was popularized by Donald Trump in the mid-2010s. None of his mercenaries were women, and he generally encouraged women to take supporting roles if they had to take any at all.
These views were part of the reason he had difficulty working with the Dinosaur Protection Group in 2018, since two out of their four representatives were women. The organization was founded by a woman, Claire Dearing, who had also held a leadership role at Masrani Global Corporation and therefore was the resident expert on Jurassic World. The other female team member, Zia Rodriguez, was a former U.S. Marine and had the personality to match; she and Wheatley were totally unable to work together and Wheatley threatened to kill her on more than one occasion. Franklin Webb, the DPG’s technician, was not terribly masculine either. In fact, the only team member Wheatley initially respected was Owen Grady, but the feeling was in no way mutual.
Like many members of the American far right, Wheatley’s greatest concern was always appearing as hypermasculine as possible, which was how he created an air of superiority above other men. As standard for his political culture, his definition of masculinity excluded all emotions of sensitivity, leaving room only for emotions that expressed dominance over others. If Wheatley ever appeared to show encouraging or kind behavior, it was always as a mocking joke and never lasted long. Any feelings that might make him appear weak were hidden away and extinguished. He seems to have denied himself even the pleasures of friendship: among the far right, having friendly relationships can sometimes be perceived as an admission that one needs support. Far-right men must be careful how close they keep their friends, lest they appear weak on their own. Wheatley resolved this issue simply by having no friends at all, ensuring that he stood alone as a leader figure that his own men barely knew.
Even when he was by himself, Wheatley always acted boastful and brash. This persona was so central to his identity that he could not even let softer feelings through when he was alone. His unwarranted confidence was ultimately his downfall; he was led into a trap by his desire to exploit and dominate. During his final moments Wheatley was confronted with mortality, something he had all but forgotten, and experienced fear. After a lifetime of trying to avoid any sign of weakness, he was rendered truly weak, scared, and helpless before he was gruesomely killed.
Most of the actual work in Wheatley’s operations was carried out by teams of mercenaries under his command. These were the experienced hunters, soldiers, and tacticians who achieved the results Wheatley was credited for. Skilled in the ways of far-right personalities, Wheatley was able to hold a position of respect among his men by effectively convincing them that it was his ideas that led them to success, even when he objectively did very little. His overconfidence in himself translated into bolder actions and choices made by the men under his employ.
However, Wheatley did not allow himself to grow close to any of the mercenaries on his teams. In the 2018 operation which brought animals from Isla Nublar to the Pacific Northwest and then the world, Wheatley showed no real compassion for men who were injured or killed on mission. One of his mercenaries was brutally killed directly in front of him, and Wheatley’s only concern was that the man’s desperate act of self-defense did not harm Wheatley’s paycheck. The other men stayed loyal to Wheatley, and no one mourned the fallen mercenary openly, but the fact that none of the mercenaries in 2018 seemed to know Wheatley personally suggests that he seldom employed the same men twice.
Ken Wheatley’s last employer was Eli Mills, the financier for the Lockwood Foundation. Publicly, Mills was a humanitarian and environmentalist, aiding good causes around the world by investing the Lockwood fortune. In private, though, Mills had grown into quite the misanthrope by 2018 when he hired Wheatley. In order to finance genetic research, he planned to sell the abandoned Isla Nublar dinosaurs on the black market, and needed someone without any ethical qualms to help him. For this, he employed Wheatley. Mills was ready to pay him great sums of money for the creatures captured (and probably a cut of the auction gains), with a special bonus promised if he could capture a particular Velociraptor. It is unlikely that Wheatley knew, or cared, about the nature of the genetic research Mills was conducting.
Despite working together, Wheatley and Mills did not get along. Neither man was the trusting sort, and where Mills had intellectual pursuits, Wheatley’s politics left little room for scientific interest. Many members of the far right are fully dismissive of science and even oppose it wholesale as a conspiracy perpetrated by the Democratic Party, the far left, the Chinese government, or whatever other foe they seek to blame for the world’s troubles. Wheatley was not known to specifically speak out against science, but he was quick to dismiss Mills as a lesser man. There was also the fact that Mills was averse to getting his hands dirty, relegating unpleasant tasks to his underlings, whereas Wheatley actually relished the idea of murdering those who opposed his politics. While Wheatley would gladly have killed the DPG members, Mills favored abandoning them to starve in the basement.
Throughout the whole operation, Wheatley was sure to always remind Mills about the bonus he had been promised, wary that Mills might conveniently forget to pay him. In return, Mills continuously harried Wheatley about the mission’s progress. In the end, Wheatley sought out Mills to ensure his payment when he realized the auction had gone wrong, and met his death as a result. Mills, having not witnessed Wheatley’s demise, never even gave the man a second thought as he evacuated the estate; whether he would eventually have investigated what happened to Wheatley is a moot point as Mills met his fate not long after.
Dinosaur Protection Group
Capturing most of the target species on Isla Nublar was easy enough, since many of them were large and could be spotted from a distance away. One target, however, eluded the best of Wheatley’s men: the Velociraptor Blue, who was of special interest to his employer Eli Mills. There was one man capable of understanding the raptor well enough to track and capture her, an animal trainer called Owen Grady who had raised Blue in captivity. Mills managed to get Grady to Isla Nublar via his ex-girlfriend, an animal rights activist named Claire Dearing. In the years following Jurassic World’s closure, Dearing (who had been Operations Manager at the park) had founded the Dinosaur Protection Group, an organization devoted to advocating for de-extinct animal rights. Wheatley, a hardline conservative and anti-feminist, had no real respect for Dearing, but did consider Grady a kindred spirit based on the information Mills gave him. Grady had served with the U.S. Marine Corps, had a traditionally masculine personality, and espoused centrist politics, so it seemed at first like they would get along.
When the DPG members were flown to the island, however, the reality quickly became strikingly different from Wheatley’s expectations. Not only was the respected “raptor wrangler” not remotely as far-right as Wheatley, he actually respected Dearing’s authority on the park and supported her objectives. Grady allowed himself to feel passion, to care about things in a way that Wheatley did not. A silent but ferocious competition between Grady and Wheatley for the position of most masculine man on the island quickly took place.
The other two DPG members were not to Wheatley’s liking either. The only other man, Franklin Webb, had hardly a trace of masculinity about him; he was the team’s computer expert, a technologically-minded and anxiety-ridden millennial. Wheatley became irritated at Webb’s obvious discomfort in the field, acting condescending toward him as he worked with the park’s abandoned systems. The fourth team member was Wheatley’s biggest problem: Zia Rodriguez, a paleoveterinarian and farther to the political left than any of the others. She was a former U.S. Marine, with plenty of experience dealing with smug and aggressive men, and a shameless feminist lesbian to boot. Wheatley tried to keep her away from the action, at first employing faux chivalry to do so, but she took offense and defied his offers. Rodriguez, with her military experience, had skill with firearms and tactics to match any of Wheatley’s mercenaries paired with an ability to see through their hypermasculine performance. She saw them for the boyish showoffs they really were, and this made Wheatley and the other men deeply uncomfortable.
It was with a sense of relief that Wheatley was finally able to betray the DPG members after a couple hours of tolerating them. Webb and Dearing had enabled them to locate Blue, and Grady tracked her through the cloud forest of the northern island. Rodriguez had come with them. While capturing Blue, Wheatley started ignoring Grady’s orders and had his men tranquilize the dinosaur before Grady gave his signal. One of the men was mortally wounded in the conflict, leading to Blue being shot; Grady tried to attack Wheatley in retaliation and was hit with a tranquilizer dart. The dose was enough to kill him, but Rodriguez removed it before the full dose was administered, then threatened to shoot Wheatley. She was outgunned, but was able to bargain her way out: Blue, Wheatley’s bonus, was in danger of death due to shock and blood loss. She alone had the skills to save the dinosaur and guarantee Wheatley his bonus. He begrudgingly let her live, but left Grady in the jungle to die. The other two DPG members, still in the bunker, were sealed inside as the volcano’s eruption became too hazardous for anyone to stay on the island. Wheatley, with Rodriguez as prisoner, boarded their ship and departed Isla Nublar.
Blue’s life hung in the balance, and Wheatley found himself in a difficult situation. If the dinosaur died, he could shoot Rodriguez, but he would lose his bonus. If Rodriguez managed to save the dinosaur’s life, Wheatley felt compelled to keep his word and not kill her, but his bonus was protected. In either case, he lost something he wanted but gained something as well, and it must have been hard for him to decide whether money or murderous catharsis was more appealing. But, it was out of his hands. As they approached the Lockwood estate harbor near Orick, he found that Rodriguez had saved Blue. She could not be turned free, but Wheatley did keep his word. Rather than killing her, he had her conscripted into work in the Lockwood lab for Mills.
Soon, Wheatley received word from one of his men that Grady and Dearing were still alive. Evidently they had taken one of the mercenaries’ Unimogs and gotten on board the ship at the last second, using the chaos of the evacuation to stow away without being noticed. Wheatley apprehended them, impressed but irked that they had survived. He had them imprisoned in the manor’s basement with the dinosaurs; he wanted them killed, but Mills apparently did not have the stomach for this. During the confrontation, Grady threatened to break Mills’s arm and Wheatley made to shoot Grady if he went through with it; Grady relented at Dearing’s behest. However, this was a ploy to give Dearing a chance to grab Mills and hit his face into the bars of her cage. Rather than retaliate, Wheatley simply found this amusing.
That was the last Wheatley saw of any of the DPG members. During the night, the auction went on uninterrupted until the halfway point, at which a dinosaur apparently got loose and frightened away all the guests. Wheatley went to investigate, but he never learned that it was Grady who had caused the diversion after he and Dearing escaped their cell. Wheatley’s investigation led him into a dinosaur display cage, lured by his own vices to a bloody end. Meanwhile, Webb had also escaped Isla Nublar, and helped Rodriguez escape labor in the lab. All four DPG members survived the incidents, and Wheatley did not live long enough to see how badly his murder attempts had failed.
Black market auction attendees
During his last-ever job, Wheatley was tasked with acting as head of security for a black-market auction held by Eli Mills at the Lockwood estate. The dinosaurs his men had captured on Isla Nublar were destined for these buyers, most of whom were criminals (or at least worked for them). Some of the people in attendance included dangerous characters: the notorious mobster Anton Orlov and a proxy for arms dealer Gregor Adlrich were among them. Should any of these attendees cause trouble, Wheatley’s men needed to be ready. Wheatley himself was stationed near the loading dock, which served as one of the entrances to the garage where the auction was being held. Animals in cages were transported to and from the auction hall via the cargo elevator system, and when they were sold, Wheatley supervised them being loaded into transport trucks and sent off to their buyers.
About halfway through the auction, a disruption sent people running in fear from the estate. Wheatley witnessed a panicked crowd storm out through the loading dock, along with an escaped dinosaur: this was probably the cause of the panic. He investigated, finding the auction hall empty except for a mysterious caged creature. Distracted by its allure, he tranquilized it and entered its cage to take a trophy, but had underestimated his foe; it was not fully tranquilized but feigning unconsciousness, and it killed him. Unbeknownst to Wheatley, there had actually been other humans in the room, including a few people hiding in an elevator and the auctioneer Gunnar Eversoll cowering behind his podium. Eversoll, hiding in a state of shell-shock after one of Wheatley’s men had opened fire during the chaos, heard and briefly saw Wheatley being eaten alive and noticed that the cage was left unlocked. Eversoll tried to hide with the others in the elevator, but the creature escaped through the still-unlocked cage door and killed the lot of them. Everyone who witnessed Wheatley foolishly let the animal free died immediately after, leaving no witnesses to its escape or Wheatley’s demise.
Isla Nublar animals
The last hunt Wheatley ever went on was by far his most exotic. This mission brought him to Isla Nublar, site of the abandoned Jurassic World theme park and zoo, where animals brought back from extinction awaited. These were the rarest creatures on Earth, and thus tempting quarry for a man like Wheatley. His employer, Eli Mills, intended to sell the dinosaurs on the black market to finance his war-profiteering scientific research, so Wheatley was forbidden from killing the creatures for sport. However, he was permitted to take trophies in the form of teeth he pulled from the animals.
Dozens of creatures were captured by Wheatley’s men during their time on the island, which seems to have encompassed a few days. Some of these were specially requested by Mills’s buyers, but others were probably creatures that Wheatley’s mercenary crew encountered and caught as extras. The largest of their quarry were sauropods, the Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus, which were likely a challenge to capture and transport. Huge armored creatures, often with deadly implements, also made up part of their roster. One of the buyers had specifically requested a baby Triceratops, so Wheatley oversaw the capture of not only a baby but a few adults. This species was captured alongside Sinoceratops, Pachyrhinosaurus, Nasutoceratops, Stegosaurus, and Ankylosaurus, as well as the less aggressive Parasaurolophus. Wheatley was also implored to catch carnivores; one of the buyers was interested in staging a cage match between two of them. He caught some of Isla Nublar’s most menacing species, including Carnotaurus, Allosaurus, and Baryonyx. Smaller species also found their way into his cages, such as the little carnivore Compsognathus, the flying Pteranodon, the venomous Dilophosaurus, the belligerent Stygimoloch, and the speedy omnivore Gallimimus. Many of these dinosaurs suffered by Wheatley’s hand, especially those he pulled teeth from. Wheatley did this while the dinosaurs were semi-conscious from tranquilizers and therefore less a threat, but lucid enough to feel pain. He relished in harming the animals while they were vulnerable, gloating about how they would ache when they fully recovered.
One creature eluded his mercenaries: a Velociraptor called Blue, the last of her kind and of great importance to Mills. He promised Wheatley a hefty bonus for catching her. This was an intelligent animal and capable of outmaneuvering the best of Wheatley’s men. No tranquilizer gun could hit her, and no trap could catch her. Because of this, Mills had to recruit Owen Grady, Blue’s father figure, to assist. Blue was finally caught, but not without struggle; she killed one of Wheatley’s men and took a bullet to her side. She nearly died, and would have taken Wheatley’s bonus with her. A last few dinosaurs were rounded up as the volcanic eruption grew violent, including the oldest member of a legendary species: the Tyrannosaurus rex. With these last animals hurriedly logged into the Arcadia‘s manifest as they were loaded, Wheatley and his team made a hasty retreat from the island before conditions grew too hazardous to survive. Blue was returned to health on the trip to Orick, ensuring that Wheatley would get his bonus.
The animals were sent down to the Lockwood estate’s sub-basement laboratory, suffering more cruelties at the hands of Wheatley’s men along the way. Wheatley stayed outside during the auction itself, monitoring as the creatures were moved from the auction hall to the loading bay and then onto transport trucks. Once they left the estate grounds, they were no longer Wheatley’s concern. Halfway through the auction, trouble reared its head: a dinosaur had gotten loose, one of the Stygimolochs. It frightened guests, driving them out of the auction hall. Wheatley, grimly wondering if his payment would be impacted, went to investigate, which led him to his death.
When Wheatley entered the auction hall in search of Mills, wanting his bonus despite the auction being disrupted, he found that the place was largely abandoned. The only sign of life he saw was a strange and unfamiliar creature in the display cage, apparently unable to be moved to the loading dock due to damage to the conveyor. He did not know its name, but when he saw the Indoraptor, he saw an alluring target. Describing the genetically-engineered creature as “some kind of hot rod,” and commenting that he did not recognize it from the island, he decided that he deserved a trophy from its jaws. He struck it with two tranquilizer darts, but when it did not immediately go down, he marveled at its resilience and prepared a third dart. However, the animal suddenly went from aggressive to out cold in a moment.
It appears that Wheatley, having relied heavily on his men to do the hunting for him, did not realize that animals seldom fall unconscious from tranquilizers instantaneously. The drug needs time to do its work. It was also highly inadvisable of him to assume anything about an unknown animal’s physiology, but his overconfidence left no room in his mind for caution or logic. Instead, he entered the cage, preparing to extract one of the Indoraptor‘s teeth. As he did, he caught movement in his peripheral vision. Nothing was there when he turned his head, so he went back to his efforts. Again there was movement, and this time he spotted the supposedly-unconscious dinosaur’s tail wavering in the air. Before he could put two and two together, the dinosaur grabbed his right arm in its jaws, tearing it off at the shoulder and eating it before Wheatley’s eyes. All his years of defying emotions like fear were useless now. Wheatley was prey, and his foe relished in causing him torment. After toying with him for several seconds, the Indoraptor proceeded to eat him alive. Wheatley spent his final moments sobbing in terror and screaming in agony.
Ken Wheatley is portrayed by Ted Levine. Like most of the World trilogy characters, he is not based on a specific individual from Michael Crichton‘s works, but is an original character created for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He does feature a kind of cruelty, both to people and animals, common to Michael Crichton’s villainous characters.
Rather than be based on a character or characters from the novels, Wheatley (like most of the Fallen Kingdom characters) is a commentary on contemporaneous American politics with relation to environmental activism. Specifically, Wheatley is based on the American extreme reactionary movement: his anti-feminism and support for big game hunting are directly lifted from far right politics. He even uses the phrase “nasty woman” to describe Zia Rodriguez, a reactionary anti-feminist dogwhistle popularized by Donald Trump. To a degree, Wheatley was meant to be a parody of the far right, but like-minded audience members actually did not notice, a testament to how much the extreme right has become a parody of itself. In fact, highly-conservative audiences mistakenly believe Wheatley to be a heroic character, probably distracting themselves during the parts of the film in which Wheatley plans and attempts to murder four people in cold blood twice.