killer whale 'caught trainer's hair'
at a US aquatic park was dragged to her death by a killer whale after her
long hair drifted into the animal's mouth, a police report says.
Dawn Brancheau was lying nose-to-nose with the orca in shallow water when
the incident happened at the SeaWorld park in Florida. She escaped to the
surface briefly but the animal struck her twice more before she was dragged
under again. Ms Brancheau, 40, was killed while performing with 'Tilikum'
in February. The medical examiner ruled that she died from drowning and
employee Lynn Shaber, said the whale, Tilikum, was "a possessive animal"
and she had therefore known Ms Brancheau was in trouble when she saw her
underwater, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office report.
normally keeps things that he has and will not release them," the report
quoted her as saying.
Topoleski, another trainer, sounded an alarm when he saw Ms Brancheau's
hair was caught in the orca's mouth. By the time he looked back, she was
underwater. She managed to free herself and made it to the surface but was
hit again by Tilikum at least twice, the police report said.
were quick to use nets to try to capture the whale but it took half an hour
for them to succeed in freeing her body. Employees used nets and threw food
at the whale in an attempt to distract him but one worker said it only made
the animal more agitated. Moving from pool to pool in the complex, they
eventually captured Tilikum and released Ms Brancheau's body, before realising
that the whale still had her arm. Ms Brancheau, a trainer with 16 years'
experience, was attacked in front of an audience at the SeaWorld park on
killer whale was also reportedly involved in the death of a female trainer
in Canada in 1991.
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