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Boy if that headlines doesn't get your attention nothing will.
I feel bad for the woman who lost her life and for her family..
I 'm hoping for a happy ending for the Orca who can't be held responsible for his actions. Going to be ineresting to see what they do with Tilikum.
http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/k ... s/19372534
(Feb. 25) -- An animal trainer at SeaWorld Orlando was killed Wednesday in front of horrified theme park visitors by an orca that was involved in two previous deaths.
"It is with great sadness that I report that one of our most experienced animal trainers drowned in an incident with one of our killer whales this afternoon," SeaWorld General Manager Dan Brown said in a statement. "We've initiated an investigation to determine, to the extent possible, what occurred. There are no other details to report at this time."
As the investigation proceeds, the area of the park that contained the whale has been shut down, the Orlando Sentinel said. The newspaper reported that other areas of the Florida park remain open. SeaWorld also suspended orca shows at its other parks, The Associated Press said.
The trainer was identified as 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau, who had spent more than a decade working with killer whales.
A witness interviewed by CBS affiliate WKMG Local 6 said she saw the whale leap out of the water and grab the woman.
"He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent," the witness told Local 6.
But a spokesman for the Orange County sheriff's office described the incident differently.
"We had a female trainer back in the whale holding area. She apparently slipped or fell into the tank and was fatally injured by one of the whales," said spokesman Jim Solomons.
Chuck Tompkins, head of animal training at SeaWorld, later confirmed the witness account. "She was apparently rubbing the animal down and apparently the whale pulled her in," he told WFTV. "She was pulled in and she drowned."
Tompkins confirmed reports from numerous sources that the animal responsible for the attack is a 12,000-pound, 30-year-old male called Tilikum -- "Friend" in the Chinook Native American language -- that has been linked to two prior human fatalities.
The first occurred in 1991 at the now-defunct Sealand of the Pacific park in Canada. Tilikum and two female whales drowned a 20-year-old marine biology student and part-time animal trainer in front of other staff members, according to the New York Daily News.
Then in 1999, Tilikum -- who had been transferred to SeaWorld following the closure of Sealand of the Pacific -- was found one morning with a 27-year-old homeless man on his back, also drowned, CBS Orlando 4 reported. The man had apparently remained hidden in the park until closing and then climbed into the tank or sneaked in after hours.
Julie Fletcher, Orlando Sentinel / MCT
Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau, shown here performing on Dec. 30, 2005, was killed in an accident with a killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday.
These two incidents as well as various other nonfatal incidents involving orcas going back to the 1970s have led the Humane Society of the United States to vehemently oppose keeping the animals in captivity and training them to perform in front of crowds.
"SeaWorld should have changed their policy in terms of Tilikum years ago," Naomi Rose, orca biologist and senior scientist at the Humane Society, told AOL News. "This was an accident waiting to happen."
Rose pointed to a 2006 investigation into an accident at SeaWorld San Diego when a 39-year-old trainer suffered serious injuries after being bitten and dragged underwater by an orca during a performance. The trainer was following industry standards, investigators said.
In a report detailing the findings, the California Division of Occupational Safety concluded:
Swimming with captive orcas is inherently dangerous and if someone hasn't been killed already it is only a matter of time before it does happen. The trainers recognize this risk and train not for if an attack will happen but when. The orca is capable of tearing off an arm, a leg, or a head and if that is against its nature it could easily drown a human or trap it in the cold waters of the tank until the human expires from hypothermia. Even if the animal does not have the intent to kill, the bulk and weight of its body is enough to smash a person against the sides of the pool, knocking them unconscious or crushing them to death.
SeaWorld was subsequently issued a citation in that case, but Rose maintains that not only did the organization fail to act upon the investigators' recommendations, but the conclusions reached in the report were actively suppressed.
"One of the biggest problems is that SeaWorld miseducates the public," Rose told AOL News. "What the public is seeing isn't a contented animal behaving naturally but a caricature dragged into a box and not given any choice. These are very intelligent, powerful, social animals and I'm afraid that this is what happens when they are not given any choice as to their own lifestyle and behavior."
But SeaWorld is not without its defenders. Take journalist Amy Sutherland, who spent a year researching animal training techniques for her popular books "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched" and "What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage."
"SeaWorld in particular is revered in the animal training world," she said to AOL News. "It has pioneered some of the most progressive training techniques and is well known for using positive reinforcement. From a care perspective, they do a great job, both in caring for their animals' needs and for their trainers' safety."
She trusts SeaWorld to conduct a thorough internal investigation to determine what went wrong in this case and believes that it will adjust its policies accordingly.
Meanwhile, Rose said that the Humane Society would prefer to see Tilikum retired to an area of SeaWorld where he is not involved in "stressful" public performances. While the organization does not support euthanizing the animal, she recommends allowing trainers to have an "elephant gun" handy to put down any animals that threaten human safety.
She also said that Tilikum's behavior may indicate that he is close to the end of his own life. "He may be days away from dying. Whales can go off their feed and be dead within 48 hours. They often hide their illnesses, so it's difficult to know. Clearly he was acting out for some reason in this incident."
The orca, or "killer" whale, is actually the largest member of the dolphin family. The animals get their nickname from the fact that they sometimes hunt actual whales for food and are the "most widely distributed mammal in the world" besides humans, according to MarineBio.org.
Filed under: Nation, Science, Top Stories, Only On
There should be no Sea Worlds or Circus , you can't make these animals or mammals perform over and over again for human entertainment in confined areas. It just not right. When are humans going to wake up. So sad. When animals attack, gee no shock here.
Classy i have to agree with you on the seaworlds and the circus.. I remember when they had the Orcas at Marineland on the palos verdes peninsula. Marineland snuck them off to San Diego in the middle of the night. pretty much the end of Marineland
Places like San Diego Wild Animal Park, play a very important role in keeping animals off the endagered species list. Unfortunatly it won't be long till the only place safe for the big cats ,apes and too many others will be in the zoo
San Diego Wild Animal park is fine cuz they have room to roam and no tricks. I remember Marine Land too. Thanks LD , It seems a voice should make a different but people just don't seem to care anymore.
How would humans like it if they were in a cage and had to do tricks for tourists? Or have marsh mellows thrown at you? Or have visitors come up to the glass walls and make funny faces at you? Not so exciting is it , well?
HEY that's basically my job description (according to HR) - got paid today so marshmallows or no marshmallows, long as there's a real nice dinner on the table gots no problems with it ...
I read elsewhere that he has not killed anyone before, that he was just in the vicinity when two other deaths happened (not both at the same time.)
"And Afleet Alex just ran right by Giacomo like he was standing still!"
Tom Durkin, 2005 Belmont Stakes
He has not been proven to have killed anyone before, not by himself, he hasn't. I wish people could remember these are wild animals. Just because they are trained to perform tricks like a pet chihuahua doesn't mean their strong inherent instincts get erased.
http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/newswir ... killer.htm
Tilikum Known to be Dangerous Killer Whale by SeaWorld Staff
Feb. 25, 2010
Jason Garcia, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla
SeaWorld Orlando has always known that Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau on Wednesday, could be a particularly dangerous killer whale.
SeaWorld trainers were forbidden from swimming with Tilikum, as they often did with the resort's seven other orcas.
Only about a dozen of 28 handlers, including Brancheau, had been specifically trained to work with him from the edge of SeaWorld's pools.
That was in part because of his size: At an average weight of nearly 6 tons, Tilikum -- nicknamed Tilly -- was the largest orca at any of SeaWorld's parks.
But it was also because of his ominous history.
In 1991, Tilikum and two female killer whales dragged trainer Keltie Byrne underwater, drowning her in front of spectators at Sealand of the Pacific, a defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.
Acquired by SeaWorld the next year to breed with female orcas, he was involved in a second incident in July 1999 when the naked body of a man who had apparently sneaked into SeaWorld after hours to swim with the whales was found draped dead across his back.
Authorities later concluded that the man, Daniel Dukes, likely suffered hypothermia in the 55-degree water and drowned, but they said it also appeared Tilikum bit the man's body and tore off his swimming trunks after he had died.
Still, Chuck Tompkins, the corporate curator in charge of animal behavior for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said Tilikum was not an unusually violent orca.
"What you need to remember is, we've done thousands of interactions with this animal with no incidents whatsoever," Tompkins told the Orlando Sentinel. He also noted that Tilikum had fathered many calves at SeaWorld, calling him "a valuable asset not only from a breeding standpoint but from a behavior standpoint, too."
Russ Rector, an animal-rights activist and former dolphin trainer in Fort Lauderdale who says keeping killer whales in captivity can turn them violent, said Tilikum's history proved the he should not have been kept at SeaWorld, a theme park that emphasizes human and animal interaction. The animal, he said, should have been set free years ago.
"Tilikum is a killer," Rector said. "If this had been a dog that killed Keltie Byrne, it would have been put down."
Tompkins said Tilikum had always worked well with Brancheau, often greeting her when she appeared and responding to her commands.
"He knew her, and he liked working with her," Tompkins said.
Although trainers weren't allowed in the water with Tilikum, Tompkins said it was important that they continue to work with him out of the water to keep him socially engaged and to provide medical treatment.
As the only mature breeding male in SeaWorld Orlando's collection, he often was kept separate from the park's other orcas, something that Tompkins said also occurs in the wild.
Immediately after the tragedy Wednesday, SeaWorld executives said they intend to review their safety and animal-handling procedures. It's unclear what that will ultimately mean for Tilikum.
"For right now, we're obviously going to handle him very carefully," Tompkins said. "I think we need to evaluate his behavior and everything that's happened up to this point."
So saying that he has killed two other people is really stretching it, more for the media's titillation value than actual truth. Sneak into a lion's den, expect to be mauled. Be in a pod of three orcas who think they spot prey, join in in taking that prey down. How is this Tilikum's fault and not humans'?
"And Afleet Alex just ran right by Giacomo like he was standing still!"
Tom Durkin, 2005 Belmont Stakes
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