Killer Whale Kills Trainer at Seaworld Orlando

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February 24, 2010  

Killer Whale Kilikum kills trainer during a live whale show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida

At around 2:00 PM in Orlando Florida on Wednesday, February 24th, a killer whale killed its trainer during a live performance at Shamu stadium, the third death caused by the whale. This tragic event is being investigated by Sea World.

The Examiner is reporting that the 40 year old trainer slipped and fell, and was then drug under water and killed. Though the park spokesman said it appeared that the trainer slipped and fell, multiple sources who were watching the show described the whale pulling the trainer underwater and thrashing her about violently.

Russell Goldman of ABC News reports the whale’s weight as around 12,000 pounds that has twice before been involved in the death of humans and that this most recent event caused the whale’s trainer to drown. The entire event unfolded during one of the day’s live shows that are one of the main attractions to the theme park in Orlando, Florida.

The whale’s name is Tilikum and is 30 years old, according to the Daily News. This source suggested that Tilikum may be getting unpredictable in her old age as part of the reason for this vicious thrashing, as it was described by witnesses of the horrific event. Her trainer was Dawn Brancheau who had worked with the whale for years.

The Orlando News Sentinel is reporting that Dawn had wanted to work with whales since she was a little girl and had a passion for marine biology from a young age. Her mother said that she loved her work. She ended up giving her life for the job she loved. Paramedics were unable to revive the trainer and she was pronounced dead on the scene.

The park is now closed and there will be a full investigation into the incident. San Diego’s SeaWorld also closed its whale shows for the day. I feel terribly for the family of the trainer, and am shocked that this whale was allowed to be contained after two previous instances of human death linked to it. This event may serve as a re-evaluaiton of animal park operations.


Hellen Kennedy, Daily News

Kristy Stevens-Young,

Orlando Sentinel News Online

Russell Goldman, ABC News


Picture courtesy AP