A killer whale attacked and killed a trainer in front of a horrified audience at a SeaWorld show Wednesday, with witnesses saying the animal involved in two previous deaths dragged the trainer under and thrashed her around violently. Distraught audience members were hustled out of the stadium, and the park was immediately closed.
Veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was one of the park's most experienced. It wasn't clear if she drowned or died from the thrashing.
SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs confirmed the whale was Tilikum, one of three orcas blamed for killing a trainer who lost her balance and fell in the pool with them in 1991 at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia.
Watching trainers and whales, dolphins, porpoises and other creatures play at SEa World and other marine parks has long been a popular past-time, and has inspired many kids to take up suba diving, oceanography and other disciplines.
While Dawn's death is a tragedy, it must be remembered that this is the first death at a marine park, in 9 years. It's hardly as if the whales are rebelling against their trainers and killing them every day of the week.
Still, organizations like PETA will doubtless use this tragedy as a rallying cry to urge that all animals in marine parks be released into the open oceans... where they will be killed by fishermen in due course...
Seaborn and TechnoOcean reserve judgement on what the consequences should be from this tragedy. These whales and dolphins are not pets, they are not domesticated animals, but usually they interact so well with humans that it does seem as if they like the company....