Whale kills trainer in front of SeaWorld audience in Orlando
Whale kills trainer at SeaWorld Orlando
A five-ton orca, or killer whale, grabbed a veteran trainer at SeaWorld Orlando and pulled her into its tank Wednesday, where it inflicted fatal injuries, park officials said.
Trainer Dawn Brancheau was rubbing the whale, named Tilikum, after a noontime show when it grabbed her, said Chuck Tompkins, head of animal training at all SeaWorld parks.
Tilikum had been involved with two previous human deaths, one at the Orlando amusement park. In 1999, Daniel Dukes, 27, either jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water of Tilikum's huge tank after the park had closed. Tilikum was one of three orcas blamed for killing a trainer in 1991 after the woman lost her balance and fell in the pool at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia.
Park guest Victoria Biniak told WKMG-TV that 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."
"He was thrashing her around pretty good," Biniak said. "It was violent." The guests were asked to leave and the park was closed.
-- Associated Press
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