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Whale that killed trainer returns to live shows at Seaworld

The orca killed the park worker by dragging her under the water. The whale is linked to two previous deaths.

Killer whale Tilikum (left) during a training session at SeaWorld earlier this month
Killer whale Tilikum (left) during a training session at SeaWorld earlier this month
Image: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP/Press Association Images

A KILLER WHALE that drowned its trainer last year has been reintroduced into live shows at Orlando’s SeaWorld theme park.

Tilikum the orca dragged 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau from a poolside platform by her hair and pulled her into the water on 24 February 2010. It’s thought that she died from multiple injuries and drowning.

Five thousand people packed out SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium yesterday as six tonne Tilikum made his first appearance since the incident. Trainers at the theme park have been subject to a raft of new rules since Brancheau died. They are not allowed into the pool during live shows, although they will begin getting back in the water with the killer whales on a limited basis. SeaWorld has also introduced new safety measures in and around the pools.

Trainers are still not allowed to enter the pool with Tilikum. The orca has been linked to the deaths of two other people. An assistant trainer at a water park in Victoria, Canada drowned in 1991 after she fell into the water and was dragged below the surface by Tilikum and two female whales. In 1999 the naked body of Daniel Dukes was found draped over Tilikum’s back after he sneaked into SeaWorld at night. Marine mammal biologist Dr Naomi Rose said that in both cases the whale had played with them roughly as he would with a seal or a dolphin in the wild.

PETA staged a protest outside SeaWorld yesterday. Spokesperson Bryan Wilson said:

Once again we see that SeaWorld is more concerned about money than they are about the lives and welfare of the animals and even their employees.

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Emer McLysaght

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