whale has dragged a trainer to her death during a public performance at
the SeaWorld amusement park in Florida.
Brancheau, 40, was giving a lecture in front of hundreds of people after
a display at the Shamu Stadium in Orlando when the whale is said to have
pulled her in.
"She was rubbing the killer whale's head, and (it) grabbed her and
pulled her in," said Chuck Tompkins, Corporate Curator of Zoological
Operations at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Media reports have said
the whale grabbed her by the waist, thrashed her about and pulled her underwater
in front of an audience of visitors. Seconds after the incident, sirens
went off and SeaWorld employees rushed in to evacuate the audience. "We
don't know what was going through the killer whale's head. It just got done
doing a wonderful session with Dawn... his behaviour was great... that's
the reason that she was rubbing his head," Mr Tompkins said. "We
don't have any other specifics yet. This is a terrible, terrible situation
that's happened, it's a tragedy.
greatest sympathy goes out to her family." Dan Brown, president of
SeaWorld Orlando, confirmed Ms Brancheau had drowned. He said she had been
one of the park's most experienced trainers, having worked there for 16
Sentinel said the whale has killed before. Tillikum, known as 'Tilly', was
blamed for the drowning of one of his trainers in 1991 while he was performing
at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, the newspaper said.
He was then sold to SeaWorld in 1992 and in 1999 was involved in another
death when authorities discovered the body of a naked man lying across his
back. Authorities said the man, who had either sneaked into SeaWorld after
it had shut or hidden until past closing time, probably drowned after suffering
hypothermia in the water. A former SeaWorld employee told the Sentinel Tillikum
is usually kept apart from the other whales and trainers are not allowed
to get into the water with him because of his past.
to be freed 3/4/10 read
seaworld trainer’s autopsy report indicates tilly wasn’t playing