Killer Whale Kills SeaWorld Trainer


Yikes! A killer whale lives up to its name! An extensively trained SeaWorld Trainer, 40 year old Dawn Brancheau was apparently in a whale holding area when she slipped and fell in, and was then killed by the whale. Can you imagine? This is absolutely devastating. I’m sure we can go into “well, that’s what you get when you keep animals in captivity..,” etc but, it is really sad for this woman to have died in such a terrible way. People who work with animals obviously love them and I’m sure she really loved killer whales – evident by the picture of her above with one of the killer whales. It’s really odd because despite their name, killer whales are actually not violent in nature. When I was a kid, I used to be obsessed with killer whales when I was a kid. I had a big stuffed Shamu teddy bear and everything.

SeaWorld President Dan Brown stated the following to reporters today:

“It is with great sadness that I report that one of our most experienced animal trainers drowned in an incident with one of our killer whales this afternoon. We’ve initiated an investigation to determine, to the extent possible, what occurred.”

A couple witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel one of the killer whales “had the woman by the upper arm, tossing her around in its mouth as it swam rapidly around and around in the tank.” Horrific! There were also a couple people in the underwater viewing tank that witnessed the whale swimming around with something in its mouth. They witnessed her bleeding from her face or mouth and the whale kept turning her over and over in its mouth.

Needless to say, the park is closed today. Although which whale made the attack hasn’t been confirmed, the killer whale Tillikum, nicknamed Tilly is normally kept isolated from the other killer whales and because he’s been involved in two other deaths, and has a violent history, trainers aren’t allowed to get in the water with him. In 1991, this Tilly was blamed for a death by drowning here in BC. When it was later sold to SeaWorld in 1999, someone died after he snuck into the park at night and was bit by the whale when he went in to swim. He likely died of hypothermia. This whale is primarily used for the “Dine with Shamu” show.

PETA has continued to challenge SeaWorld saying, “to stop confining oceangoing mammals to an area that to them is like the size of a bathtub…It’s not surprising when these huge, smart animals lash out…Captivity is abusive to these animals. And the abuse mounts up. And when these animals snap — just for a minute — they’re so big and can be so dangerous that it’s like a shotgun.” It’s a fair point.

  • Jared

    Killer whale’s aren’t really whales. They’re part of the orca species of dolphins. Yay for fun facts lol

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  • Ronald Almeida

    Tilly kill, kill till they set you free!

  • Dave

    ” killer whales are actually not violent in nature.”????? Um, have you not seen them attack and eat sea lions and seals? They even attack sharks.

    I wouldn’t say they are typical violent towards humans, but they are carnivores.

  • against humans, yes that’s what I meant to say. Thanks Dave 🙂

  • So sad. A truly tragic accident. I covered this story as it broke on my show.

  • Sindy

    The Whales need to be set free unless they are injured. I don;t know where we get off thinking it is ok for us to take an animal that big out of the ocean and put it in a swimming pool. I think their fin folding over is an obvious sign that their is something not right about keeping them in captivity. They are not supposed to look like that.. SET THE KILLER WHALES FREE!!

  • jamie

    The real killer here is Seaworld. Putting these magnificent creatures in a tank and making them do tricks to entertain people is completely wrong and unnatural. Her death is tragic, but what’s more tragic in my opinion is the abuse these animals endure – that’s what being in captivity and trained to do ridiculous tricks amounts to. I agree with Sindy – SET THE KILLER WHALES FREE.

  • Dessi

    I do agree with Jamie. And i am really sorry for this poor woman, but i wonder if the whale even knew that she loved him? animals usually feel who loves them. i am not certain about killer whales. They are beautiful and pure, and i bet Mother Nature did not make them so huge, so they can be captured from” Human KIng” and trained to do what and why? if people want to enjoy them, why they just don’t go see them in the wild where they belong? Why do HUMANS always have to be in control and when something happens and its out of control they are so pathetic? SET THE KILLER WHALES AND ALL OTHER CAPTURED ANIMALS FREE!

  • Angie

    There are too many ramifications of sending Tilly back to the wild. She has been in captivity for 30 years….relate this to someone who has been in prison for 30 years and just being released from jail to find their way, only with no immune system to the world and no knowledge of how to find food or a home and no one to help them along the way. She is highly susceptible to too many infections and diseases in the wild. She is also going to continue to crave the affection and love from humans that she is so used to….drop your dog off in the wild and see how well they do on their own without you. There are just too many variables that go along with releasing a wild animal back to nature. She doesn’t have the instincts needed to survive and I would hate to see such an amazing and beautiful animal succumb to the same fate that Keiko did. I have been a whale and dolphin lover for most my life and although I have my own views on them being kept in captivity I just do not believe you can take an animal that is so used to its home and its family and try to make them learn a whole new way of life and how to survive on her own. The cost alone to try to make the transition equates to millions having to be spent and no guarantee that she will even be able to survive on her own. I do not believe she knew what she was doing, they do not have the understanding that we cannot survive under water as long as they can and I do not believe meant to harm the trainer. I think the risk is obvious when you choose to work with wild animals, case with Siegfried and Roy, when Roy was malled by the tiger he spoke out against any punishment against the animal as he was aware of the risks he took working with wild animals.
    I truly hope that Sea World sticks to their guns and does not allow the removal of Tilly. She is a part of their family and that is how they are representing their stand and I am thankful to see that they do not put blame on anyone or the whale in such an unfortunate accident. I feel for the family of Dawn Brancheau, and understand their pain and their loss and hope they are finding peace within themselves and their family. I hope that the tragedy can end there instead of intensifying with a long debate on what the fate of Tilly should or shouldn’t be.