Whale kills trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A trainer and a whale similar to the whale involved in the incident during a SeaWorld show on February 17, 2010.
Image: Patrick Mannion.

Dawn Brancheau, a whale trainer, died in an accident at the SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, at around 14:00 local time. The incident involved an 18-year-old killer whale, Tillikum, also called Tilly. The Orange County Sheriff's Office report that trainer Brancheau has 16 years of experience. Brancheau was reported dead after being recovered from the pool.

Witness to the incident Victoria Biniak told WKMG-TV, "He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent. [The whale] ...took off really fast in the tank, and then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off."

In response to this accident, SeaWorld San Diego canceled its Shamu show, a show involving the whales at the San Diego location. "We're terribly saddened by the loss of the member of our SeaWorld family, it doesn't matter what park," David Koontz, a spokesperson for SeaWorld San Diego said.