Dawn Brancheau, a veteran trainer, died Wed. (Feb. 24) at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, after being dragged under the water by a killer whale.
Tilikum, nicknamed Tili, reportedly grabbed the trainer in his jaws from a poolside platform, shook her and dragged her underwater. The whale charged through the pool carrying her in his jaws. Other workers tried to help but could not free her in time and she drowned.
According to reports, Tili was previously acting strange during the performance by not taking direction by the trainers. This is the third human death Tilikum has been linked to. Tili killed a trainer in 1991 and killed a man during park after hours in 1999.
If this whale is so dangerously unbalanced or unhappy, why keep him at the park? Don’t let him near humans or set him free. Unfortunately, the whale may now be too dependent on humans for food to survive in the wild.
For anyone who has seen the incredible documentary, “The Cove,” this terrible incident is no surprise. Dolphins, which are simply smaller whales, are driven mad in captivity in part due to the lack of freedom to swim as they can in the wild and the deafeningly loud noise levels in those parks.
Here’s what “Cove” star Richard O’Barry, the original Flipper trainer who has spent the rest of his life fighting to prevent dolphin capture and free captive dolphins, has to say about life in captivity for these whales
“Working back in the 1960s for Miami Seaquarium, I captured and trained dolphins – including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV series of the same name. I have witnessed firsthand the struggling and suffering imposed on dolphins during the violent capture process and their subsequent lifelong confinement.
I have also seen a great many captive-born dolphins die in these killing tanks. And I have also personally buried countless dolphins at Miami Seaquarium; so many, in fact, that we ran out of room to bury any more. When Cathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died (he says she forced herself to stop breathing) in my arms, I realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks was simply wrong.”
SeaWorld has suspended the killer whale shows at all of its parks, which also include locations in San Diego and San Antonio, to review “procedures.”