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SeaWorld death: Business as usual after trainer killed

Trainers will continue to interact with a killer whale that grabbed one of their colleagues and dragged her to her death, SeaWorld has said.

People lined up to visit the popular park in Orlando, Florida, yesterday, a day after the orca named Tilikum killed experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau in front of a horrified audience.

Tilikum had been involved in two previous deaths, including that of a Canadian trainer in 1991.

Killer whale shows are suspended indefinitely in Orlando and at the park's San Diego, California, location. SeaWorld said it was still reviewing the incident.

“Many people are asking about the future care of Tilikum,” a spokesman said.

“We have every intention of continuing to interact with this animal, though the procedures for working with him will change.”

Ms Brancheau (40) was rubbing Tilikum from a poolside platform when the 5,500kg creature reached up, grabbed her ponytail in its mouth and dragged her underwater.

Trainers rushed to help but could not save her.

The whale grabbed Ms Brancheau by her long exposed hair after it had swung out in front of him, said SeaWorld curator Chuck Tompkins.

“That's when the trainer next to him (Tilikum) said that he grabbed the hair, pulled her under water and, of course, held her under water,” Mr Tompkins added.

Because of his size and the previous deaths, trainers were not supposed to get into the water with Tilikum, and only about a dozen of the park's 29 trainers worked with him.

Belfast Telegraph


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