Orca Drowned Trainer at Sea World

February 25, 2010

By now you’ve all read the headlines of ‘Orca Drowned Trainer’, and what a sad day it truly is at Sea World in Florida. What was the cause of this incident? Keep reading to know the rest of this tragic news plus check out the photos and video below.

Dawn Brancheau

I couldn’t believe it when I read the story online – ‘Orca Drowned Trainer’ just gave me the chills. It sounds almost like a bad dream or a scary movie, but unfortunately this news is true and we are terribly sorry for trainer Dawn Brancheau’s family for their tragic loss, our most sincere condolence and prayers go out to you.

As spectators awaited to see the orcas, so with veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau, who has been working with the whales for over sixteen years. It was pretty normal for her to be rubbing orcas and that included a 30-year old whale named Tilikum. For Dawn to be a trainer with sea animals was just natural, that’s what she expressed to her mother when she was just nine years old during a family trip to Sea World.

"I remember walking down the aisle [of Shamu Stadium] and telling my mom, ‘This is what I want to do,’" said Dawn.

Dawn had been working in her earlier years as a trainer at the Sea Lion & Otter Stadium, and for the next years she dedicated her career to killer whales and she was more than happy to work with these enormous mammals.

"You can’t put yourself in the water unless you trust them and they trust you," Dawn Brancheau said.

But it all went tragically wrong when the orca grabbed Dawn and began swimming with her body in its mouth, until the whale pulled her underwater and drowned. Alarms went on as spectators screamed, at first the rest of the Sea World at Shamu Stadium thought that Dawn had fallen, but soon they found out it was not as they thought it was.

She drowned and suffered other lacerations on her body caused by the 12,000 pound killer whale Tilikum, who had previously been involved in three other attacks, two of them involved humans. Once, in 1991, another female trainer who fell into the tank and again in 1999 a man who had sneaked into Sea World was found the next day dead by the whale. It was rather confusing – if he fell or jumped. The cause of his death was hypothermia, although he did have some injuries and bruises on his body. The other attack concerned another whale, due to this only a few and qualified trainers could work with Tilikum, and Dawn, 40, was one of those trainers.

The Shamu Stadium at Orlando has been closed indefinitely. Sea World was open the next day after the attack , but the stadium remained closed. The orcas stadium in San Diego has been closed as well.

You might be wondering what will happen to Tilikum? We all might be thinking that they will isolate the whale and never work with it again, but as crazy as this might sound it is the total opposite, you see trainers are working with the whale. Yes you read it right, I couldn’t believe it either!

In fact, Tilikum won’t be isolated from the others whales who will continue to interact and mate with him. Here, read for yourself, this is what Chuck Tompkins of Sea World said.

"We have every intention of continuing to interact with this animal, though the procedures for working with him will change. We want him to continue to be part of that social group.”

It’s not that we want the whale to be punished, they are incredible, beautiful animals, but we don’t want accidents like this to keep on happening and seeing another headline of ‘Orca Drowned Trainer’. Take a look at the photos and video below.

Dawn Brancheau photo 1Dawn Brancheau picDawn Brancheau picture

Orca Drowned trainer in Sea World video

Photos: www.wenn.com

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