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February 26th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

SeaWorld keeping killer whale

Orlando, Florida (CNN) - SeaWorld has scheduled a news conference Friday to discuss an accident that left a trainer dead after she was attacked by a whale, a spokesman said.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, died Wednesday from multiple injuries and drowning after a 12,000-pound whale grabbed her ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at Shamu Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff's office said Thursday.

She was "pulled underwater for an extended period of time," Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld's curator of zoological operations, told CNN's "American Morning."

SeaWorld said the 1 p.m. ET news conference will give more details. Watch the news conference live on CNN.com and on your iPhone.

Read more: Details coming in whale trainer's death


Filed under: Top Stories
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. yvonne

    It is obvious that any wild animal, and this includes any animal born into captivity that hasn't been domesticated for many generations, is a risk. Most trainers/keepers at the better zoos and aquariums are well informed as far as the captive care of these animals. The ethical dilemma is that captivity for many of these animals is lacking, especially the larger animals.
    The worst captivity is the circuses. Seaworld does do a certain amount of education but it is also a circus in many aspects. Look at the shows;flashing lights, music. The tanks are very small and barren. My hope would be at the least that the legal restrictions would tighten to only allow zoos and aquariums that can accomodate larger more humane enclosures, no circus/tricks, and to seriously consider stopping the artificial insemination of the larger, more difficult to keep animals. As far as the ponytail theory; cant be true. Many pics,videos of trainers have long hair, swinging even. The aggressive incident involving the male trainer in San Antonio didnt involve long hair. If that was a possible risk swimming caps would have been policy.

    March 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  2. patsy

    If my dog killed one person, my dog would be removed and "put down" regardless of what I have to say! It killed, so something MUST be done!!! Someone has to protect the humans here!! I would NOT take my children there EVER! It seems to be quite alright for Sea World, to have no care or concern for its customers. Most of these are children, so the parents must protect! This is all to the fault and blame of Sea World! They took these beautiful creatures into captivity to begin with, when not one of these Orcas killed anyone! They are NOT killer whales! They are Whale killers! They just changed the name so you would ggo to Sea World to see them! What a shame to know that Sea World did this to our wonderful creatures of the sea! They should be boycotted!

    March 1, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  3. LA

    I think the whale should be put back in the ocean to be free,it can't be happy living in that small tank. Let it live its last days in peace.

    February 28, 2010 at 12:53 am |
  4. JB

    What does the public expect from these whales, their first name is killer.

    February 27, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    The US Senate should craft a bill that would make it illegal to keep any Orcha Whale in captivity over 1/2 of its expected lifespan before releasing that Orcha Whale back into the Ocean.

    I can think of no greater memorial to the brave and dedicated Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau who tragically lost her life showing the world how beautiful and graceful these huge sentient creatures are.

    Oregonians rescued Willie-Kiko a female Orcha Whale from a Mexican resort tank and after medical rehab successfully released Willie-Kiko back to the Ocean where she lived free for her last 10 years and died as a free Orcha Whale with her pod mates.

    February 27, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  6. Tim

    Why would the only options be to "put down" or "move a more appropriate enclosure" a Killer Whale that Sea World have taken out of its natural habitat and enclosed in an area representing a tiny proportion of the size of its normal territory? If it hasn't reacted well to being confined, then make every effort to find a way to introduce it back into its natural habitat.
    Your comments reflect exactly the sort of ignorance and thoughtless assumption that contributed to this employee's death in the first place.

    February 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  7. Kat

    Sea World is too focused on getting back to business as usual and too quick to announce that it won't consider either putting the animal down or moving it to a more appropriate type of enclosure. Will another employee get hurt or killed by this dangerous whale, and if so, will Sea World care, or will it blow off this accident as it has blown off all the other incidents?

    February 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  8. Nancy Newell

    We can learn a lot from animals...my children have grown up at Sea World...we have been to three of their aquariums...we have had our own menagerie of animals over the years...most domestic but some have been wild...we have even rescued abused animals. We have seen Dawn work with the whales.
    They were playing...her ponytail looked like a fish...she lost her awareness because she became familiar with the whale. This was not an attack... can we hold them responsible for an accident. They will have problems with him because she is now gone...he will be depressed. She was such a loving, caring trainer and animals do grieve for their loss.
    Another thought about animals...they are in tune with nature. Yes...follow them to higher ground and out of fires. One thing that I noticed last June was my dogs: both have under coat...they were not finished shedding the winter coat before they started putting on the new winter coat. This told me back then that we were in for a cold winter. Everyone thought I was nuts...I was prepared...

    February 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  9. Jennifer

    While I feel for the fate of this women – I feel more sorrow for the poor whale and all oceanic animals that are being held captive. These animals do not belong in tanks, performing parlor tricks in the name of higher education of the animal. If we want to protect these animals, we will do more to protect their environment and their natural habitats. I know that releasing them to the wild is not the solution in the current method – what needs to happen is to release them to an isolated area of the ocean to help them slowly adapt to, and develop their natural instincts and then slowly release them back to the wild. We can't expect these animals to understand how to function in the wild when all they've ever had to do was silly tricks to get their food. This is COMMON SENSE, but unfortunately, until parks like Sea World are not allowed to exploit these animals, these attacks won't stop and we will continue to ask these same stupid questions.

    February 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm |