From Fox News:
A killer whale killed a SeaWorld Orlando trainer who slipped or fell in its tank Wednesday, drowning her in front of a horrified audience.
Dan Brown, president of the Orlando park, said the trainer was one of the park’s most experienced.
He would not answer questions about whether it happened during a performance, but an audience member said a show was just starting.
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,” Victoria Biniak told WKMG-TV.
Jim Solomons of the Orlando County Sheriff’s Office, said the trainer slipped or fell into the whale’s tank, which seemed to contradict Biniak’s description.
“This appears to be an accidental death, a tragic death,” said Solomons.
Neither Brown nor Solomons would release the trainer’s name. The park is investigating, and Mike Wald, a spokesman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Atlanta, said his agency has dispatched an investigator from Tampa.
The guests were asked to leave and the park was closed.
This is not the first deadly incident for the whale, named Tilikum, or Telly for short, CBSNews.com reported.
The male whale had an issue at Sealand in British Colombia in 1991, also resutling in a trainer’s death.
The news organization didn’t say what exactly the incident was, but it caused the company to sell him to SeaWorld in 1992 where he could be in a bigger tank.
In 1999 a homeless man sneaked into Tilikum’s tank and was later found dead with a bite mark, CBSNews.com reported.
A former SeaWorld contractor told the Sun-Sentinel.com. in Florida that the whale is usually kept isolated from the other whales and trainers are not allowed to be in the water with him because he is violent.
Nancy Black, a killer whale expert, told WKMG-TV the whale could have just been playing.
“They are very intelligent creatures. Tehy have emotions and feelings. Maybe it was unhappy in the situation, maybe it was bored,” Black told the station.
There have been several previous attacks on whale trainers at SeaWorld parks.
In November 2006, trainer Kenneth Peters, 39, was bitten and held underwater several times by a 7,000-pound killer whale during a show at SeaWorld’s San Diego park.
He escaped with a broken foot. The 17-foot-long orca who attacked him was the dominant female of SeaWorld San Diego’s seven killer whales. She had attacked Peters two other times, in 1993 and 1999.
In 2004, another whale at the company’s San Antonio park tried to hit one of the trainers and attempted to bite him. He also escaped.
In December, a whale drowned a trainer at a Spanish zoo.
At the Orlando SeaWorld, the body of a naked man was found scratched, bruised and draped over a 5-ton orca named Tilikum in July 1999. Daniel Dukes, 27, reportedly made his way past security at SeaWorld, remaining in the park after it had closed. Wearing only his underwear, Dukes either jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water of Tilikum’s huge tank.
An autopsy ruled that he died of hypothermia in the 50-degree water. But they also said it appeared Tilikum bit the man and tore off his swimming trunks, likely believing he was a toy to play with.
Dukes’ parents filed a lawsuit against the park later that year but ended up withdrawing it.
This whale has a history of killing people, so why do they continue to keep him in their program? :ehh: