SeaWorld Resumes Killer Whale Show With Tearful Tribute to Trainer
February 28, 2010
(ChattahBox)—SeaWorld’s Shamu “Believe” killer whale show resumed on Saturday with a brief video tribute to Dawn Brancheau, the 40-year-old trainer who lost her life. The chilly rainy weather seemed appropriate for the solemness of the occasion, as a group of trainers stood before the audience to a standing ovation, with tears in their eyes, after watching a video of Brancheau playfully interacting with the park’s giant orcas. The audience was sparse and a group of PETA protesters gathered outside the park, vocalizing their opposition to holding killer whales in captivity and carrying signs that read, “Free Willy.”
Brancheau was killed while interacting with Tilikum, a 12,000-pound male orca, already responsible for taking two human lives, when the killer whale grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail and thrashed her to death last week.
Tilikum did not participate in the show on Saturday. And it’s not clear when, or if, he will return to performing. But SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment President Jim Atchison, said on Friday that Tilikum would not face punishment or isolation and will remain an “active, contributing member of the team.”
The killer orca is prized by SeaWorld for his use in their breeding program. “Tilikum is an extraordinary animal,” Mr Atchison said. “He is a very special animal that requires very special handling.”
There were obvious changes made in the popular Shamu show, with the absence of contact between the whales and the trainers. The trainers did not enter the water at all during the show. And the female trainers did not wear their hair loose or in ponytails.
The two additional shows on Saturday also featured a video tribute to trainer Dawn Brancheau.
See the NY Daily News for more.
Photo Source: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP