Show re­sumes in Or­lando

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - NATION WATCH - The As­so­ci­ated Press

It in­cludes a memo­rial to the trainer who was killed last week.

SeaWorld’s pop­u­lar killer whale show re­sumed Satur­day with a memo­rial for a trainer who was killed by one of the or­cas in front of hor­ri­fied spec­ta­tors last week.

Em­ploy­ees wept and au­di­ence mem­bers grew si­lent dur­ing the photo mon­tage trib­ute to vet­eran trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, who died Wed­nes­day af­ter a 12,000-pound orca named Ti­likum grabbed her pony­tail and pulled her into the wa­ter in front of about 20 spec­ta­tors. The med­i­cal ex­am­iner says she prob­a­bly died of trau­matic in­juries and drown­ing.

More than 2,000 peo­ple packed the park’s sta­dium Satur­day for the first show since Brancheau’s death.

Af­ter the show be­gan, the au­di­ence seemed thrilled, ap­plaud­ing and cheer­ing as the or­cas zipped around their tank and splashed spec­ta­tors dur­ing the show — with the theme of “be­lieve,” about a young boy who sees an orca and dreams of one day be­com­ing a whale trainer. It was a fit­ting trib­ute to Brancheau, whose fam­ily said she al­ways wanted to work with the gi­ant mam­mals.

Spec­ta­tors packed the enor­mous out­door am­phithe­ater de­spite chilly, rainy weather.

“It was very mov­ing,” said Molly Geis­linger, 33, who came from Min­neapo­lis with her hus­band and 21-month-old child. She no­ticed how the train­ers acted. “They looked like they were be­ing very care­ful,” she said. “They looked very cau­tious to­day.”

In­deed, the train­ers weren’t al­lowed in the wa­ter, mean­ing the han­dlers did not surf on top of the marine mam­mals or fly into the air. In­stead, the train­ers di­rected them from out­side the huge tank’s acrylic walls. They coached the crea­tures to splash the frontand-cen­ter rows a few times, much to the de­light of on­look­ers.

SeaWorld of­fi­cials have said train­ers won’t swim with the or­cas un­til of­fi­cials fin­ish re­view­ing last week’s in­ci­dent.

Ti­likum did not per­form Satur­day.

PHE­LAN M. EBENHACK | AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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