American Morning

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February 25th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

What caused accident at SeaWorld?

(CNN) – SeaWorld is shutting down all killer whale shows today after a sudden and frightening attack at their park in Orlando.

SeaWorld's star attraction, a killer whale named Tilikum, killed veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau yesterday. Witnesses say the orca actually grabbed Brancheau and pulled her into the water. So what went wrong?

We were joined on Thursday's American Morning by Chuck Tompkins, curator of zoological operations at Sea World in Orlando.

Read more: Did killer whale pull trainer into tank?

Filed under: Top Stories
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. patsy

    just to say ...I used to work offshore. I have very long blond hair and when working I had to pull it back (with braids), for my safety. I had, however, two occasions where a large fish found my hair as something to grab onto, and pulled me under! I think that it should not only be mandatory to have all long hair pulled back, but also netted close to your head! Trout will also grab onto the hair if it is close to the water! Make it mandatory! It could save lives in the end! My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

    February 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  2. Dacey

    Yes, Brancheau had her dream profession. Out of all due respect, she knew the risk that this particular career consisted of and she also is familiar with the natural whale behaviors. These whales were her children, her best friends. She spent most of her life dedicated to what she did. Why would she appreciate the world turning against one of her own because of what could be a simple accident? What makes people think that a whale may perhaps absolutely know humans can’t survive under water? Tilly might easily be accused of being very playful and rough housing. He didn’t know his own strength would ultimately lead to his best friend’s death. The news is blowing up the statement that Tilly was “linked to two other deaths”. Yes, “linked” to. What the news does not share is that Tilly was one out of three whales that was in the tank when another trainer drowned. The additional death was a man’s body found in Tilly’s tank but the autopsy establishes that this man died from hyperthermia. Now for those of you who are leaping to judge and has their opinion to put this wild animal, Tilly, to sleep should perhaps pay closer attention to not only details but how Brancheau would feel if one of her whales were put down. Overall, Tilly is a wild creature and Brancheau was aware of the risk that came with working with this wild intelligent animal. It is at great grief for the loss of Brancheau and the Lord is with her family.

    February 26, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  3. ronvan

    1. Yes, this is a very sad event. We have a loss of life which is always tragic. Yet, we have a killer whale, which for me, is one of the most magnificent animals in the kingdom. While I would rather see them in their own environment, "the oceans", it is my understanding that they cannot be released because they cannot fend fot themselves and survive. Hopefully the resulting panic will not result in "demonstrations" to have this whale put down, he is not at fault!

    February 26, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  4. jd

    Although I feel this accident was tragic, we cannot allow this to destroy the good work Sea World has done over the years. Any wild animal or mammal is prone to revert back to its nature at some point. I have worked with tigers and bears and many other animals, and I know that I take a chance each time I encounter them. But I also know that we are learning more about the species and helping to maintain them in the future.
    This woman knew the risks she was taking, and it was her decision to continue to work with these wonderful mammals. This was a tragic accident, and it may have seemed like play to this large whale. We cannot jump to conclusions and neglect all we are learning just because of one accident. This is a large mammal, who probably just wanted to play, and it turned into tragedy. I doubt the whale was thinking "gee, I can kill her and get even!" No we don't need to release the whales, we need to continue to learn from them.

    February 26, 2010 at 6:41 am |