Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trainer Killed in 'Dine With Shamu' Attack: Tilikum, Largest Whale at Any SeaWorld Park, Will Not Be Put Down

Left Coast Rebel has the story, "Killer Whale Tilikum Kills Trainer Dawn Brancheau, at Sea World, Florida.

And make sure you read the report at the Orlando Sentinel, "
SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau Dies in Killer-Whale Attack":

Witnesses who watched the attack while eating at the "Dine with Shamu" show — a poolside buffet where trainers demonstrate their connection with the animals — told the Sentinel a female trainer was petting a killer whale when it grabbed her and plunged into the water.

It reappeared on the other side of the tank and leapt up holding the woman, they said.

Within minutes, an alarm sounded, and security workers escorted the spectators out. Some people were screaming, and children were crying, Sobrinho and Oliveira said. The scene was more orderly at "Dine with Shamu."

Several spectators said the animals had been agitated during a 12:30p.m. show, playing or fighting with one another and refusing to obey commands to splash the crowd, a staple of the program.
I've done the "Dine With Shamu" show with my family in San Diego. The whales literally come within a few feet of guests, who are being served privately at a lavish luncheon a few hours before the regular afternoon performance. My son was just five years-old when we attended the event. I can't imagine the shock and trauma for some families whose kids witnessed this.

And sadly, this whale has been involved in two more deaths:

Tilikum, the largest killer whale at any SeaWorld park, has been involved in two previous deaths.

He was one of three killer whales blamed for the 1991 drowning of a trainer while he performed at the now-defunct Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia. In 1999, the dead body of a naked man was found lying across Tilikum's back at SeaWorld Orlando.

Tompkins said Tilikum would not be put down because of the attacks. His name, according to various sources, means "welcome," "greetings" or "friend" in Chinook jargon.


theCL said...

Won't be put down?

A friend of mine had a difficult dog, the thing would lose its temper out of nowhere. But as man's best friend, he loved that dog. Then one day it attacked his small dog and starting growling and backing down his wife and kids ... 15 minutes later that dog was dead.

If I was in charge at Sea World, that whale wouldn't have made it 15 minutes after the attack. This isn't cruel, just a little thing called responsibility ... that too many people can't stomach anymore.

Unknown said...

theCL: wont be put down? Are you serious??? We did this to these animals. We put them in too small of tanks... America saw a way to make money and did this to them!
They are wild animals and I assure you that those trainers know the dangers of that job, they love those animals and believe me they aren't doing that job for the money. its for the love and companionship of those animals. They all the know the risks. They are named killer whales for a reason. Tilikum is one of the largest whales in captivity. He is an amazing creature, I know because I have had the privilege of interacting with him a couple of times throughout my life. But these wonderful creatures are not DOGS! You can't just put them down. They are two valuable to science. These whales roamed the waters long before man was around. They at least deserve some respect. I BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Killem & Grillem said...

Gee, I wonder why they're called Killer whales?

lisa brown said...

Its disgusting the thought of putting a animal like this down. its a wild animal and should never be used for our own gain and entertainment. The fact this whale had been involved in deaths of humans in the first place should never have been kept and toyed with like a experiment at one of these shows. They are beautiful wild animals and this unfortunate event should make us realise they should be left alone in their own habbitat they are clearly unhappy in this enviroment.

Unknown said...

I believe that these animals should be trained to go back to their own habitat. Being in captivity way too long only makes them vulnerable when they go back to the wild. Putting Shamu back to the wild would be the same as killing it.

They were commercialized as the lovable, sweet Shamu, that is how they sell. That is also why people can not judge this incident fairly. These Sea World people has a lot of money and i bet, the trainers side of the story would be pacified, we would not even feel the loss of the trainer... tsk tsk tsk

TexAngel61 said...

Trainers know the possibility of what might happen. They are aware of the animals nature so they go into what they do with all information. I am not saying its okay what I am trying to point out is that the trainers are well informed adults who can make their own decisions. Killer whales are mammals that belong in the ocean and when you put them in captivity it alters their habits and it was said by the people who saw the previous show that Tilikum showed signs of agitation. That is something to be considered too. As a trainer she should have noticed this and said something about canceling the show for the day or something. I think if an untrained eye can see the agitation then a trained professional should know of some way to prevent certain types of contact.

G.G. Till said...

theCL: I agree with Sunni Dae, you can't blame the animals. Humans take them from their natural habitats then say that they are 'injured' or 'sick', which they may be, but then most places never release the animal again. Instead, the animals are taken away from the ocean, where there is sand, and vegetation, and coral, and 10,000 ft. deep water, and they are put into captivity, 25 ft. water, fiberglass pool bottoms, being constantly stared at, surrounded by plastic shields so that the audience doesn't get too wet. That's what we do to these animals, it's sad.