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Orca Kills Trainer at SeaWorld

Posted on Feb 24, 2010
Sea World
Flickr / Growl Roar

SeaWorld in better times: An orca performs before a SeaWorld audience in Orlando in this photo from 2005.

Lest it be forgotten, Shamu and his orca pals aren’t called killer whales for nothing. Although watching humans gambol with orcas and other sea mammals has become a tourist staple at water parks around the country, that brand of family entertainment doesn’t sit well with some animal rights groups, and it can be deadly, as an incident Wednesday at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., tragically illustrated. According to reports, a SeaWorld trainer was killed by Telly, a giant male orca, as she was at work teaching visitors about killer whales, but details differ about how she ended up in the tank with Telly.  —KA

The Orlando Sentinel:

The trainer was in a whale holding area when she apparently slipped or fell into the tank drowned, authorities said.

“One of our most experienced animal trainers drowned,” SeaWorld General Manager Dan Brown said, reading from a prepared statement during a brief news conference this afternoon. He did not provide further details but pledged a complete review of the park’s safety procedures.

Authorities have not yet released the identity of the trainer. A spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said she was about 40 years old.

Park guest Victoria Biniak told Local 6 that the trainer was a veteran of SeaWorld and had just finished explaining to the audience what they would see during the performance.

At that point, Biniak said, the whale came up from the water and grabbed the woman.

“He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent,’ ” Biniak told Local 6.

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.”

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, February 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Boy, the Sea World show has come a long way.  When I saw it many years ago, Shamu swam around the pool, did some flips, jumped up to touch a ball, splashed the people in the first three rows and that was the show!

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By msgmi, February 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Exotic animals of all species do not belong confined or as house pets. They belong in the wild, not for mankinds amusement. The Roman circus had its day, but ignorance and arogance continues to roar its ugly head. There are too many housepets which need a home.

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By don knutsen, February 25, 2010 at 10:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Common sense has taken a back seat on this for a long time. We on one hand years ago determined that Killer whales weren’t the monsters of the sea we were told some time ago. That they were very intelligent mammals, with strong family structures. Then we, at the same time decided it would be a great and lucrative move to kidnap young whales from their famiies and place them in a swimming pool to perform for humans every day for the rest of their lives. I live just a few miles from Penn Cove in Washington where a group of young killer whales were seperated out from their families with nets and taken away in the early 70’s..These intelligent mammals that once had the whole of the ocean , now restricted to a 40ft square for the rest of their lives, never to be with their family members again and were shocked that after years of putting up with this some of them aquire an attitude towards their captors? Its trully dumbfounding how completely stupid we can be in the name of making a profit.

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By diman, February 25, 2010 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Bon appétit orca!!!

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By expat in germany, February 25, 2010 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“ORCA KILLS TRAINER” is a very misleading headline for this news, suggesting as it does that the whale intended to harm the trainer he had long worked and played with. Yahoo! news is calling the event an “attack,” even though a respected animal behaviorist has suggested the whale was likely playing with her. A whale does not know how long a human can breathe underwater. Nor can a whale, which weighs thousands of pounds, be expected to understand its own strength. A better headline would have been “Trainer Dies at SeaWorld.”

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By photoshock, February 25, 2010 at 6:04 am Link to this comment

The ‘intelligent’ combatants are among the worst of humanity.
Why we, for the sake of entertainment need to take a wild animal out of the wild and ‘train’ it is beyond me. All for the sake of ‘family entertainment?’
Well, I guess some humans need to feel superior to the animal kingdom, of which we are a part of. This makes no sense to me and I don’t patronize places like this.
We need more scientific learning facilities that showcase the need for environmental protection and not the entertainment of a few, unthinking and dunderheaded ignorant people.

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By WykydRed, February 24, 2010 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

What’s black and white and eats things that look like seals?

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, February 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

How easily we forget and project our own fantasies onto
these wild predators.
Anthropomorphizing wild animals is another stupid human

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By samosamo, February 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

I’m surprised that those seaworld dunderheads haven’t already
executed that horrible threat to mankind, but I don’t put it past
the dept. of homeland security to do it either, you know, put
those wild animals in their place.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, February 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

Must have been quite a show.

I wonder how OSHA is going to write this one up.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, February 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Whale 3 Humans 0

Let’s see how high the score gets before the more “intelligent” combatants figure out the problem.

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