SeaWorld Orca Trainer Killed by Whale

February 26, 2010

Dawn Brancheau was standing in knee deep water interacting with Tilikum, a 5 ton 30-year-old male orca, when he pulled her into the water by her long ponytail. The 40-year-old trainer, who had 16 years of experience working with whales, was killed by the incident, which happened on Wednesday at Orlando’s SeaWorld theme park, which closed afterward.

Police have reported that Brancheau was killed from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning. At the time, park visitors were watching while she was interacting with him. It was first thought that she fell into his pool, but witnesses said that he grabbed her hair and pulled her underwater. The police statement says that all the evidence and witness statements indicate this was a tragic accident.

According to the sheriff’s office, Brancheau’s colleagues couldn’t immediately jump in to help her due to the killer whale’s aggressive nature. In order for the SeaWorld workers to recover Brancheau, they had to coax Tilikum into a small pool and lift him out of the water. This particular orca has been linked with 2 other deaths in 1991 and 1999.

The park said that they intend to keep Tilikum. However, all the orca shows in Orlando and San Diego have been suspended indefinitely. Corporate curator in charge of animal behavior Chuck Tompkins says that he doesn’t think the whale would survive in the wild. He added that they have had a hard time dealing with this, as all the animals loved working with Brancheau, but he doesn’t think putting the animal back in the wild would be fair.


One Response to “SeaWorld Orca Trainer Killed by Whale”

  1. Ami on February 26th, 2010 9:41 am

    I knew Tilikum before because i watched his performance when i was a kid. He’s a really good performer but i think he has a very bad attitude. The last time i watched his performance was 1993.