Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 272: New Howl-O-Scream 2022 details released!

Recommended Posts

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/seaworld-trainer-death/os-seaworld-shamu-trainer-death-witnesses20100301,0,7385883.story

 

The chaotic moments surrounding Dawn Brancheau's death were detailed Monday in dozens of witness statements released by the Sheriff's Office, and they told authorities that Tilikum the killer whale kept Brancheau underwater for many minutes and did not want to let her go even as rescue personnel tried to free her. Brancheau was face-to-face with Tilikum, a 6-ton orca, performing what co-worker Jan Joseph Topoleski called a "relationship" session when Tilikum bit down on her ponytail. "Within the span of two seconds, she was pulled into the pool, unable to get her hair released from his mouth," said Topoleski, 32, who was at the scene as a SeaWorld trainer-spotter.

 

Agitated, Tilikum circled the pool with Brancheau in his mouth, witnesses said. His tail moved wildly. Sirens rang out, and rescue workers rushed to deploy nets that would help them separate the orca from the other animals and keep Tilikum under control. Two rescuers wrote that they had trouble deploying one of the nets, which made progress slow.

 

Mark Barner, 23, of Orlando, watched the rescue attempt from the Dine with Shamu show, where he was clearing tables. He said it took "what seemed like" 10 minutes to get the nets in place. As rescuers worked, an increasingly agitated Tilikum surfaced and dove with the trainer's body in his mouth, over and over again. He would not let go.

 

Some guests were attending the Dine with Shamu show, watching Brancheau and the whale by the edge of the pool. Other guests were in an underground viewing area on a photo tour, watching Tilikum through glass as he interacted with the trainer.

 

Chahine Kish, 33, of Orlando, also watched from the Dine with Shamu area. "I saw Tilly surface with a trainer in his mouth. He was becoming frantic himself." The whale would not let go, witnesses said, and other animals in the water nearby did not heed trainers' calls to move. Demae Haye, who also was eating following the Dine with Shame show, told offers he saw the Tilikum grab Brancheau's feed and take her underwater. He said another trainer sounded an alarm, "call[ed] more trainer over and brought nets out and tried to separate the trainer from the whale. Pretty much after that the whale was . . . under the water with the trainer."

 

Rescue workers used nets to corral Tilikum into a series of pools.

 

"I could see a woman's ponytail in the whale's mouth," SeaWorld rescuer Valerie Greene said. "We were then instructed to let the whale be and net the other whales in the adjoining pools. . . . He [Tilikum] eventually went over and we got the net over him and we were able to get the body out of his mouth. We had to get the new out once more to get him to let go of her arm."

 

Trainer Natalie Ciper said she arrived for work just after Brancheau was pulled into the water. She rushed to put on a wetsuit to help with the rescue. "Prior to suiting up, I saw Tilikum gated in [the] F holding [pool] holding Dawn by the arm with a net around him," she said in her statement. The pool's false bottom was raised, but the orca would not let go of Brancheau. They pried open the orca's mouth twice before Brancheau was freed, according to the statement of Jodie Ann Tintle, 31, a senior animal trainer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-trainer-killed-policy----20100302,0,318495.story

 

As SeaWorld and the team of outside experts it has assembled comb through the company's safety policies following last week's fatal killer-whale accident, they face an important question: How close is too close for the trainers who work with the company's biggest orca?

 

SeaWorld has long restricted its trainers from swimming with Tilikum, the 6-ton killer whale that pulled trainer Dawn Brancheau to her death last week. But it does allow them to work with the animal from shallow ledges built into the sides of its tanks. What's more, SeaWorld also permits trainers to lie down in that shallow water with Tilikum and other orcas — provided, officials say, the trainers maintain adequate distance from the animals.

 

"The proximity of where you were next to the animal played a big part of that [policy]," said Chuck Tompkins, corporate curator for animal behavior and training for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

 

Brancheau, 40, was lying on one of those ledges last Wednesday afternoon when Tilikum suddenly took her long ponytail in his jaws, pulled her completely into his tank and drowned her. Video taken by tourists moments before the tragedy show the veteran trainer lying on her stomach, partially submerged, while Tilikum's head bobs just beyond the ledge in deeper water. The two appear nearly face to face.

 

While SeaWorld resumed its killer-whale performances three days after the accident, trainers remain prohibited from entering the water with the animals while the company and representatives from other marine parks and aquariums review existing safety procedures. SeaWorld's policy of allowing trainers to work with Tilikum from tank ledges is among the items under examination. SeaWorld says it will also keep Tilikum out of any performances until that review is complete. Tompkins said SeaWorld expects it to be done within the next two to three weeks.

 

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Orange County Sheriff's Office are also investigating the accident. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a site inspection.

 

SeaWorld Orlando's orca complex has multiple tanks. The underwater ledges built into those tanks range from as little as two inches deep to as much as four feet deep. The ledge that Brancheau was on at the time of the accident was between three and five inches deep. It was roughly 60 feet long and about 10 feet wide, Tompkins said. Working from the submerged platforms can help SeaWorld trainers better assess a killer whale's behavior as they interact with the animal, Tompkins said. "It enables you to be at the whale's level," he said.

 

Both current and former SeaWorld officials say the company has long considered working with the killer whales from the ledges a form of "dry" interaction with its orcas. The reason: Even though the trainers are technically in the water, they are still in a position where they can more easily retreat if they see any signs that the animal is about to stop following directions. That distinction is why Brancheau and other trainers were allowed to work with Tilikum from the underwater decks, even though they were forbidden from fully entering the water with him. The swimming prohibition is one of the specific protocols SeaWorld has developed for working with Tilikum, who is twice as large as the next-biggest killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando and has been linked to two deaths before Brancheau's. The rules for lying down in the water with the orcas are less concrete. There are no set criteria for when it is or isn't allowed; instead, Tompkins said, trainers are supposed to consider factors such as the orca's proximity to them before getting off their feet. Lying down is a much more vulnerable position, because it takes longer for a trainer to get out of the way in an emergency. Before leaving their feet, Tompkins said, trainers must evaluate "where you are, what animal you are with, how you lay down, where you lay down, the distance by which you lay down, how many animals are in the pool."

 

Former killer-whale trainers say it appears from video recordings that Brancheau may have put herself in too vulnerable a position with Tilikum. "When I was there, all I can say is I would not have allowed that, to lie down next to Tilikum that close to his mouth," said Thad Lacinak, the former vice president and corporate curator of animal training for Busch Entertainment Corp., the company's name before it was sold by Anheuser-Busch InBev to the Blackstone Group last year. Whenever a trainer is working with Tilikum, SeaWorld's policies require a second trainer to act as a spotter, who, similar to an airplane co-pilot, can point out mistakes and respond if something goes wrong. SeaWorld said a spotter was watching Brancheau at the time of the accident from about 12 to 15 feet away. Lacinak said Brancheau, like the rest of SeaWorld's killer-whale trainers, understood and accepted the risks involved in working with the predators. "It's no different than a racecar driver and NASCAR," he said. "We understand what the risks are because we love what we do."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-sea-world-911-calls-released-20100304,0,2318872.story

 

Fire rescue officials in Orange County this morning released the 911 dispatch calls from the SeaWorld Orlando accident that claimed the life of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau. Brancheau, 40, was killed last week when she was dragged into a water tank by Tilikum the killer whale. Brancheau was face-to-face with Tilikum, a 6-ton orca, performing what called a "relationship" session when Tilikum bit down on her ponytail.

 

"Within the span of two seconds, she was pulled into the pool, unable to get her hair released from his mouth," said Jan Joseph Topoleski, 32, who was at the scene as a SeaWorld trainer-spotter. Mark Barner, 23, of Orlando, watched the rescue attempt from the Dine with Shamu show, where he was clearing tables. He said it took "what seemed like" 10 minutes to get the nets in place. Chahine Kish, 33, of Orlando, also watched from the Dine with Shamu area. "I saw Tilly surface with a trainer in his mouth. He was becoming frantic himself."

 

The whale would not let go, witnesses said, and other animals in the water nearby did not heed trainers' calls to move. "I could see a woman's ponytail in the whale's mouth," SeaWorld rescuer Valerie Greene said. "We were then instructed to let the whale be and net the other whales in the adjoining pools. . . . He [Tilikum] eventually went over and we got the net over him and we were able to get the body out of his mouth. We had to get the net out once more to get him to let go of her arm."

 

The Sentinel is listening to the 911 dispatches. We will have them online soon.

 

Check back for updates.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^It draws viewers to the news media outlets.

 

Clicky

 

The 911 call made after a SeaWorld Orlando trainer was pulled into a pool by a killer whale during a show has been released by Orange County Fire Rescue.

 

Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old veteran trainer, drowned after a 22-foot orca pulled her into the water as horrified spectators looked on.

 

During the call, an employee from SeaWorld said "We actually have a trainer in the water with one of the whales, the whale they're not supposed to be in the water with".

 

The caller told Orange County Fire Rescue that two or three dozen people were attempting to rescue the trainer.

 

And this is the perfect time for some obscure group to draw attention to themselves.

 

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly's history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

 

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, "When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable." (Exodus 21:28)

 

However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer's death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

 

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn't kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, "the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death." (Exodus 21:29)

 

SeaWorld has no plans to execute Tilly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly's history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

 

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, "When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable." (Exodus 21:28)

 

However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer's death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

 

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn't kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, "the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death." (Exodus 21:29)

 

SeaWorld has no plans to execute Tilly.

 

Does it have plans to execute Chuck Thompson?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not like the fact that they released the 911 call....i know it is public record but enough is enough. The family has gone through so much as it is, do not need more reminders. As for the buzz that if "The Cove" wins an Oscar, they are going to lecture Sea World, it would be a complete dick move.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.seaworldparksblog.com/explore/blog/statement-seaworld-and-family-dawn-brancheau

 

Statement from SeaWorld and the family of Dawn Brancheau

March 8, 2010

 

The family of Dawn Brancheau and SeaWorld are working to prevent the public release of video and photographs related to the February 24 incident at Shamu Stadium. The video, which is SeaWorld property, was provided to Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) voluntarily and in good faith to aid in their investigation. According to OCSO the release of video and photographs is being sought by a variety of news organizations.

 

Charles LoVerde, a spokesman for Dawn’s family, said: “This remains a time of tremendous sadness and grief for our family. Use of this video will do nothing more than further sensationalize a tragic event and traumatize our family. Some members of the news media have shown restraint and sensitivity during this difficult time, but many others have not. The conduct of some members of the press has been disgraceful. Our family has a right to heal in private and we once again appeal to the media to recognize the terrible pain we are experiencing and give us a small measure of respect and privacy.”

 

SeaWorld's review of the incident is underway. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Dawn's family and those closest to her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.wesh.com/entertainment/22775768/detail.html

 

PETA organizers plan to fly a plane over SeaWorld on Tuesday morning in protest. Members of the animal rights group sent out a press release Monday that said "SeaWorld parkgoers will soon receive a message from above, courtesy of PETA."

 

A small plane carrying a large banner that reads "SeaWorld: Let Whales and Dolphins Out of Prison," will fly over the park Tuesday, according to PETA.

The group said SeaWorld should transfer all dolphins and whales to coastal sanctuaries.

 

"PETA is concerned that animals at SeaWorld remain frustrated and enraged by their cruel confinement and their inability to hunt, swim, and live in the oceans with natural family pods," reads the release. The protest comes after the recent death of a trainer at the theme park.

Dawn Brancheau died in an attack by a killer whale at the park on Feb. 25.

 

SeaWorld resumed all shows involving animals, three days after the attack, without trainers in the water. The Orange County Sheriff's office recently released witness statements from the attack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/business_tourism_aviation/2010/03/seaworld-reconsiders-whether-to-return-killer-whale-that-drowned-trainer-to-live-shows.html

 

SeaWorld said Tuesday that it is reconsidering whether to keep using the 6-ton killer whale that drowned its trainer last month in performances for audiences.

 

In the immediate aftermath of the Feb. 24 tragedy, in which 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed, SeaWorld said it intended to return Tilikum to shows. Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said the orca’s training for and participation in such performances was an important component of his “overall health and husbandry.”

 

But SeaWorld has subsequently decided not to make any decisions about its interactions with killer whales until it has completed an internal review of training and safety policies. The company says it hopes to complete the review, which will also include input from representatives from outside marine parks and aquariums, sometime this month.

 

Tilikum hasn’t appeared in any shows since the accident. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.

 

“It is likely that Tilikum will return to shows, but it’s premature to acknowledge that at this point,” SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said Tuesday.

 

Nicknamed “Tilly,” Tilikum is SeaWorld’s most dangerous orca.

 

At 12,000 pounds, he is the largest of the 26 killer whales in the company’s collection and roughly twice as large as the next biggest at SeaWorld Orlando. Tilikum has also been linked to two deaths in the past: the drowning of a trainer at a British Columbia aquarium in 1991 and the drowning of a man who had climbed into SeaWorld’s orca tanks after hours in 1999.

 

As such, SeaWorld has developed a series of safety protocols specifically for Tilikum. For example, only the company’s most experienced trainers – about a dozen of the 28 at SeaWorld Orlando – are permitted to work with Tilikum and none is allowed to swim with him, as they routinely do with other killer whales.

 

SeaWorld has, however, permitted trainers to work with Tilikum from ledges of shallow water built into the sides of its tanks. That is where Brancheau was working when authorities say Tilikum grabbed her by her long ponytail and pulled her below water.

 

Though SeaWorld has resumed killer whale performances, the company says it will not allow trainers into the water with any of its orcas until the safety review is complete.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about their 11th manatee rescue this year.

 

SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team rescues a young female manatee today from a canal near Satellite Beach, Fla. This was the park’s 11th cold-stress manatee rescue this year – an unusually high number due to Florida’s unseasonably cold and extended winter. The approximately five-foot-long sea cow remains in guarded condition at SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Center, where she is be treated by park veterinarians and animal care specialists in hopes of releasing her back to nature.

 

SeaWorld is the global leader in the rescue and rehabilitation of manatees. The park’s Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Team is on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. SeaWorld has released seven manatees this year.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=SW0540_Manatee_Rescue_FINAL_z5rz[/coastertube]

281836527_20100309_SatteliteBeachPRManateeRescue_48.jpg.92ce9dcf5ea29d41e91edaf6ff1586cc.jpg

Photo by SeaWorld

Edited by jedimaster1227
Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2011355075_seaworld16.html

 

The family of the SeaWorld Orlando trainer drowned by a killer whale last month gained a temporary order to keep photos and videos that captured her death out of the public eye. An Orange County Circuit Court judge late Monday granted Dawn Brancheau's family its request for a temporary restraining order against the Medical Examiner's Office and the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office is investigating Brancheau's Feb. 24 death at the theme park.

 

At issue are photographs taken by Orange County deputies and SeaWorld video that park officials turned over to the Sheriff's Office after the orca grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail, pulled her into the water and then drowned her.

 

There are video records. One is an underwater view from a camera in a window in the pool. The second is an overhead view from a camera mounted on the park's Sky Tower, according to the Brancheau's complaint, which was filed Friday. The underwater view doesn't show Brancheau until after she enters the water, the complaint said. The Sky Tower camera wasn't aimed at the scene until after the incident occurred. Neither video shows events leading up to Brancheau being pulled into the water, according to the complaint. "What the videos do depict is Mrs. Brancheau's drowning and her lifeless body," the complaint said.

 

By Florida law, materials collected by the Sheriff's Office as part of its investigation will become public record when the agency's investigation concludes.

 

Orange Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Kirkwood set a March 24 hearing to determine the length of the injunction. At that hearing, any other interested parties can be heard. Several media outlets, including national networks and the Orlando Sentinel, have requests for any and all public records related to the case, the Sheriff's Office said. Sheriff's Office attorneys take no position on the request. The Medical Examiner's Office filed no objection, according to Kirkwood's order. Kirkwood has the "responsibility to balance the individual's interest in keeping the records private against the public's right do disclosure," he wrote in the six-page order.

 

The judge will be looking at several factors when deciding what to do. He'll have to determine if releasing the information furthers the public's evaluation of "governmental accountability." And he'll weigh how intrusive the videos and pictures are to the relatives if the information is released. Kirkwood will inquire whether other material that is "equally relevant" but less intrusive is available.

 

In an affidavit also filed Friday, Scott Brancheau stated he fears the release of the video footage and photos would lead to the "widespread and irreversible dissemination" of the items on the Internet. The release of such images, "which graphically depict the circumstances of the death of my wife ... will cause me untold anguish, grief and pain," Brancheau stated.

 

The Brancheau family — including Dawn Brancheau's mother, sister and brother — is represented by Jon Mills, an emeritus dean at University of Florida's Levin College of Law and a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. It is also represented by Karen Dyer, wife of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, according to the order. Mills was part of the legal team that represented the widow of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt in her battle to prevent the release of her husband's autopsy photos after he was killed in a 2001 race crash in Daytona Beach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about its latest celebrity visitor, Carlos Peña. He and his family took the time to visit Discovery Cove.

 

Carlos Peña, first baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, swims with a new fan, Jenny, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Peña spent the day at Discovery Cove in Orlando swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with rays, and hand-feeding exotic birds. Explore more at DiscoveryCove.com.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=CarlosPenas_DayAtDiscoveryCove_wu31[/coastertube]

536241385_20100315_PRCarlosPena_05.jpg.700d34236aef2e22223979624bf7ecc3.jpg

1123143482_20100315_PRCarlosPena_07.jpg.84b8448bfc40265239559068fe73c5f8.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-sea-world-trainer-shamu-video-20100318,0,2073999.story

 

SeaWorld got permission Thursday to help the family of killer-whale trainer Dawn Brancheau keep photos and video related to her death out of the public eye. An Orange County judge granted the theme park's request to join a motion by Brancheau's family to prevent the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the local medical examiner from releasing images related to the attack that killed the trainer.

 

At issue are photos taken by Orange County deputies and SeaWorld video that park officials turned over to the Sheriff's Office after an orca grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail, pulled her into the water and then drowned her Feb. 24. According to court records filed earlier, the video recordings include an underwater view from a camera in a window in the pool, and an overhead view from a camera mounted on the park's Sky Tower. The underwater view doesn't show Brancheau until after she enters the water, the Brancheau family's complaint said. The Sky Tower camera wasn't aimed at the scene until after the incident occurred.

 

Neither video shows events leading up to Brancheau being pulled into the water, the complaint said. "What the videos do depict is Mrs. Brancheau's drowning and her lifeless body," the court record said.

 

In a motion filed by SeaWorld counsel Wednesday, the company said it has an interest in the pending litigation because it is the exclusive owner of all rights in and to the videos and will be directly affected by the outcome of the litigation.

 

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, where a judge will determine whether the material will become public or remain private.

 

By Florida law, materials collected by the Sheriff's Office as part of its investigation will become public record when the agency's case concludes.

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-tilikum-whale-seaworld-20100318,0,4930240.story

 

Three times a day, just as they always have, SeaWorld Orlando's killer-whale trainers brush Tilikum's teeth. But they no longer stand right next to the animal with a water pick. Instead, trainers have built a 2-foot extension that allows them to work farther from the 6-ton orca's jaws. The jury-rigged toothbrush is one small example of the many adjustments SeaWorld has made in the 3 1/2 weeks since Tilikum grabbed veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau by her ponytail and drowned her in front of park guests.

 

After the Feb. 24 tragedy, SeaWorld removed Tilikum from its daily shows and ordered its trainers to keep their distance from the animal, who is twice as big as any other orca at SeaWorld Orlando. The park imposed the restrictions while it reviews its killer-whale safety protocols, a process now expected to extend into April. But though Tilikum no longer shows up to splash audiences during SeaWorld's popular "Believe" killer-whale show, he continues to live in the park's seven-tank orca complex. SeaWorld says it has taken numerous steps to continue providing a healthy, stimulating environment for the animal. "He's the same exact Tilikum through all of this, and we're providing him with the same exact environment, as far as it being stimulating and enriching and healthy," said Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando. "What's changed is we're challenged with finding new ways of doing that."

 

Some of the adjustments have required Tilikum to learn new behaviors. Consider how SeaWorld obtains blood samples from its orcas. Typically, trainers will have a killer whale line up along a shallow ledge while a trainer kneels by its tail. The animal will then roll over, deposit a tail fluke in the trainer's lap and allow an adjacent veterinarian to take a blood sample with a syringe. But with trainers no longer allowed that close to Tilikum, they have had to devise a new method. So they have trained him to line up with the tip of a target pole held over the water, with only his tail by the side of the tank. A vet can then reach over a wall to get a sample of Tilikum's blood. Flaherty Clark said Tilikum learned the new process in only about two weeks, a sign that the orca remains engaged.

 

There are other examples. When trainers must open or close a gate between tanks, for instance, they have any nearby orca wait a short distance away, allowing trainers time to adjust the gates. Tilikum used to maintain such holds for 10 to 12 seconds, Flaherty Clark said; now, he holds for as much as three or four minutes.

 

Tilly's new tricks

 

Tilikum has even learned a new way to accomplish the orca equivalent of cleaning his room. Whenever he is done playing with his "toys" -- which include oversized plastic disks, blocks of ice and large balls originally designed for elephants -- the animal now knows to deposit them by the side of the pool and then swim to another tank so trainers can enter to gather them.

 

Flaherty Clark said Tilikum has long enjoyed tactile interactions with his trainers -- having his pectoral fin rubbed, for instance -- that are no longer possible. So trainers have taken to spraying salt water from a high-pressure hose into his tank to simulate a massage. "You'll see him manipulate his body in ways that only he can possibly come up with, in order to get just the right body part under the saltwater pressure," Flaherty Clark said.

 

Tilikum continues to rehearse maneuvers used in SeaWorld performances, to keep him active and involved. Although SeaWorld maintains that life remains enriching for Tilikum, some animal activists, who argue against keeping killer whales in captivity at all, say that is unlikely.

 

Howard Garrett, board president of the Orca Network in Greenbank, Wash., which advocates for killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, said forcing trainers to keep their distance likely has a negative effect on Tilikum, as orcas are inherently social animals who enjoy physical contact. "They're very tactile. He's going to notice the difference that nobody will come close to him," Garrett said. "And, inevitably, that's going to increase his sense of isolation."

 

SeaWorld has said it will not permit its trainers back into the water with any of its killer whales until after its safety review is complete, possibly in April.

 

Not waiting to act

 

But the park is already making some procedural changes. For instance, the number of killer-whale trainers permitted to handle Tilikum has been reduced to the six most-experienced on staff. Previously, SeaWorld had permitted about a dozen of its 28 orca trainers to work with Tilikum.

 

And SeaWorld says a new rule that trainers with long hair tie it in a bun -- rather than merely binding it in a long ponytail, as Brancheau did -- is a permanent policy change.

 

Some adjustments, such as Tilikum's extended toothbrush, had to be quickly improvised. Flaherty Clark said trainers began thinking of new ways to care for the animal immediately after the incident. "Caring for Tilikum is something that was absolutely front in our minds," she said. "It would certainly have been at the front of Dawn's mind."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-seaworld-trainer-autopsy-20100331,0,7791965.story

 

SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau suffered "blunt force" injuries to her neck, head and torso after a killer whale pulled her under water last month, according to a final autopsy report released this morning.

 

The report confirms last month's preliminary findings by the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office that Brancheau's cause of death was from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning. The Medical Examiner ruled her death an accident.

 

The Orange County Sheriff's Office and SeaWorld officials initially said Brancheau slipped and fell into the killer whale's tank.

 

Brancheau, 40, was interacting with a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum in knee-deep water Feb. 24 when the killer whale grabbed her by her ponytail and wouldn't let go. A crowd was present when the orca attacked Bracheau.

 

The six-page autopsy report shows the violence with which Tilikum treated the veteran trainer after she was pulled in the water. The orca removed part of Brancheau's scalp and detached her left arm. She also suffered multiple fractures, including to her back, ribs, legs, arms and face. Her spinal cord also was injured, the report said. Her body was covered in cuts and bruises. The medical examiner found fluid in Brancheau's lungs, showing that she drowned. A toxicology report, which is routinely performed on autopsies, found no drugs in Brancheau.

 

Immediately after the attack witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel the killer whale shook and tossed the trainer while swimming with her in the tank.

 

The Sheriff's Office said its investigation into the accident is on-going and did not release additional information about the attack.

 

The lawyer representing Brancheau's family did not return a request for comment.

 

SeaWorld Orlando spokeswoman Becca Bides said the park had no comment on the autopsy but that the company is hoping the media gives Brancheau's family members the "respect and humanity they deserve."

 

Brancheau's family has filed a motion in Orange County Circuit Court to keep Sheriff's Office photographs and SeaWorld's on-site video of the accident from becoming public. A judge permitted the family, SeaWorld and various media organization, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Lakeland Ledger, to negotiate a possible agreement about the availability of the video and photos. On Wednesday, the Associated Press joined the process. Two of the theme park's video cameras captured parts of the killer whale attack. SeaWorld has argued in court that the video should not become public because it is private and that it owns the video.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just an FYI. If you are planning to use Silver Passports from another Sea World / Busch park at Sea World Orlando, you might want to print out and bring an explanation of the benefits when you go. We encountered a training and customer service problem that could cost you time and aggravation.

 

Last week our family of 4 Sea World San Diego annual pass holders visited Orlando. Two of us have Platinum Passes, the other two Silver.

 

When we visited the ticket booth, the attendant knew that our Platinum Passes allowed free admission - in fact, our original passes worked in the turnstiles here and at Busch Tampa. Impressive!

 

However, neither this employee nor the other one working the station next to her knew that Silver Passport holders are allowed entry for 50% off the normal gate price. In fact, she was quite rude and argumentative about it when I asked to speak with a manager. (I was mellow - I'm on vacation to have fun, not raise my blood pressure)

 

I eventually brought up the Sea World San Diego's passport member website on my iPhone to show the proper price, which didn't get me anywhere. It took quite a while for the manager to arrive, 15 to 20 minutes, who didn't so much as look at me but did square the ticket seller away. We got our 50% off tickets, but without any acknowledgment that they should have known better from the beginning.

 

Maybe I caught them on a bad day. Basic courtesy goes a long way, and I've experienced nothing but excellent, cheerful customer service during our visits to the Sea World / Busch family of parks. We've never run into this at home, and only encountered top notch, friendly employees inside SWO and at Busch Tampa later that week.

 

And I might as well add that Manta was great, swoopy fun with those teases of imminent collision (oh, but they made Tatsu's ops look blistering quick). Kraken was top notch, our new favorite of the B&M floorless variety, topping the Medusas and Scream.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/