Trainer dies after attack by killer whale
Thursday 25 February 2010
A female trainer was attacked and killed by a killer whale in front of dozens of horrified tourists yesterday. Eyewitness reports suggested the orca, which has been involved in two previous deaths, rose up to grab Dawn Brancheau by the waist and shook her violently before dragging her under water.
Victoria Biniak, a visitor to the SeaWorld centre in Orlando, Florida, said the 5.5 tonne animal, called Tilikum, pulled the woman into the water, contradicting official claims that she fell in."[The whale] shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off," she said. "He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent."
Eldon Skaggs said Brancheau was on a platform and was massaging the whale when it "pulled her under and started swimming around with her". Joao Sobrinho, another witness, was at an underwater viewing area and saw the whale gripping the trainer by her upper arm and tossing her about. "It was terrible," he said.
An investigation has been launched into what happened, with officials saying it appeared the trainer fell rather than was dragged in. Ms Brancheau, 40, had worked at the centre since 1994 and was an experienced member of staff.
In 1991 Tilikum was one of three orcas blamed for the death of a trainer who fell into their tank at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia. In 1999 the scratched and bruised body of a man who had sneaked into Orlando SeaWorld was found draped over its back. The man had died of hypothermia.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...
£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...
£25000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you seeking to furth...
£25000 - £45000 per annum + car + benefit: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic and uni...