ORLANDO, FL – Spectators and trainers were subjected to an unexpected show yesterday at SeaWorld. A terrible tragedy rocked the park!
Dawn Brancheau, a veteran trainer at SeaWorld, fell victim to the 12,000-pound creature she was attending to. The killer whale Tilikum grabbed Brancheau be her long ponytail, according to the heed of animal training at SeaWorld parks, Chuck Tompkins. The whale dragged her underwater and despite desperate workers rushing to help, Brancheau was killed.
Terrified visitors that stuck around after a noontime show experienced the animal charge through the pool with the trainer in its jaws. Workers used nets as an alarm sounded, but it was to no avail. Dawn Brancheau had drowned.
Brancheau’s interaction with the whale appeared leisurely and informal at first to audience member Eldon Skaggs. The the whale “pulled her under and started swimming around with her,” Skaggs told The Associated Press.
“There wasn’t anything to indicate to us that there was a problem,” Tompkins told the CBS “Early Show.”
Victoria Biniak, another horrified spectator, recounted her experience to WKMG-TV. The whale “took off really fast in the tank, and then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off.”
This marked the third time that Tilikum had been involved in a human death. Due to his size and previous deaths, trainers were not supposed to get into the water with Tilikum. Only about a dozen of the park’s 29 trainers worked with him.
“We recognized he was different,” said Tompkins. He also said that no decision had been made yet about what will happen to Tilikum, such as transferring him to another facility.