SeaWorld train­ers will keep work­ing with whale that killed trainer

Cape Breton Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

OR­LANDO, Fla. (AP) — Train­ers will con­tinue to work with a killer whale that grabbed one of their col­leagues and dragged her un­der­wa­ter, killing her, but SeaWorld said Thurs­day it is re­view­ing its pro­ce­dures.

Peo­ple lined up to get into the Or­lando park a day af­ter the whale named Ti­likum killed vet­eran trainer Dawn Brancheau as a hor­ri­fied au­di­ence watched. Ti­likum had been in­volved in two pre­vi­ous deaths, in­clud­ing a Cana­dian trainer dragged un­der wa­ter by him and two oth­ers whales in 1991.

Killer whale shows are sus­pended in­def­i­nitely in Or­lando and at the park’s San Diego lo­ca­tion.

“Many peo­ple are ask­ing about the fu­ture care of Ti­likum, the whale in­volved in the in­ci­dent,” the blog post said. “ We have ev­ery in­ten­tion of con­tin­u­ing to in­ter­act with this an­i­mal, though the pro­ce­dures for work­ing with him will change.”

Chuck Tompkins, who is in charge of train­ing at all SeaWorld parks, said Thurs­day that Ti­likum will not be iso­lated from Or­lando lo­ca­tion’s seven other whales. He fa­thered some of them and will con­tinue to mate with oth­ers.

“ We want him to con­tinue to be part of that so­cial group,” he said.

Train­ers will re­view safety pro­ce­dures and change them as needed, but Tompkins says he doesn’t ex­pect much about the killer whale shows to change.

Brancheau, 40, was rub­bing Ti­likum from a pool­side plat­form when the 12,000-pound crea­ture reached up, grabbed her long braid in its mouth and dragged her un­der­wa­ter.

The Or­ange County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice said Thurs­day that train­ers try­ing to help her could not get into the wa­ter be­cause Ti­likum was so ag­gres­sive. They had to coax him into a smaller pool and raise him out of the wa­ter on a plat­form be­fore they could free her.

She likely died from mul­ti­ple trau­matic in­juries and drown­ing, the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice said.

Hor­ri­fied vis­i­tors who had stuck around af­ter a noon­time show watched Ti­likum charge through the pool with Brancheau in his jaws.

Tompkins said the whale was ly­ing in front of Brancheau when her braid swung in front of him and he ap­par­ently grabbed onto it.

“ We like to think we know 99.9 per cent of the time what an an­i­mal is do­ing,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press, Thurs­day. “But this is one of those times we just don’t know.”

Kelly Vick­ery, 24, of Tal­la­has­see was at the noon show Wed­nes­day and said the whales seemed to be act­ing odd, swim­ming around the tank rapidly. Train­ers said the whales “were hav­ing an off day, that they were be­ing ornery,” she said.

Tompkins dis­puted that, say­ing noth­ing seemed ab­nor­mal with any of the whales.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

Chuck Tompkins, chief an­i­mal trainer for SeaWorld, an­swers ques­tions Thurs­day about the death of a trainer at the theme park in Or­lando, Fla., Thurs­day.

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