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.