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Trainer Killed by Whale at SeaWorld in Orlando

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Killer whale - Trainer Killed by Whale at SeaWorld in OrlandoSeaWorld, Orlando whale trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed Wednesday after a 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum grabbed her and dragged her underwater.

What does the future have in store for Tilikum and the animal shows at SeaWorld?

Keep reading for more details.

SeaWorld announced on Thursday that it will suspend killer whale shows indefinitely at its locations in Orlando and San Diego.

SeaWorld also said that they intend to continue to work with the Orca in question, but they’ll change the procedures for doing so.

Colleagues say that Brancheau’s long ponytail likely contributed to the accident that caused her death. Witnesses described seeing Brancheau petting Tilikum on the nose when the whale snagged the trainer’s ponytail in its mouth and pulled her underwater.

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Orca WhaleThe 30-year-old whale had been involved in previous incidents. In 1991, Tilikum was one of three killer whales involved in the death of a trainer who fell into a pool at Sealand of the Pacific near Victoria, British Columbia.

Then in 1999, a man who snuck into the park after hours was found dead in Tilikum’s pool. The man died of hypothermia, but he was also found with bruises and scratches.

Due to these previous accidents, only about a dozen of the park’s trainers worked with Tilikum, and none of them were supposed to enter the pool. Brancheau was one of the trainers with the most experience.

Other SeaWorld employees who have worked with Tilikum describe him as a well-behaved, balanced animal.

According to family members, Brancheau loved the animals like her children and wouldn’t have wanted anything to happen to the killer whale in retaliation.

By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: Los Angeles Times, CBS News, Forbes

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