DIGEST

Whale kills trainer in front of SeaWorld audience in Orlando

An orca that had been involved in two previous deaths attacked and killed a trainer at Orlando SeaWorld on Wednesday.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

FLORIDA

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

HEALTH

H1N1 a threat despite decline, WHO says

The World Health Organization urged nations around the world Wednesday to remain vigilant about the H1N1 pandemic, saying it is too early to declare that the threat had peaked.

The spread of the virus has slowed or declined in many parts of the world, including the United States and Western Europe. But experts remain concerned because the virus had started to spread in West Africa and winter is still to come in the Southern Hemisphere, the agency said.


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