Show resumes in Orlando
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.