SeaWorld trainer dies after killer whale attack

A female trainer has died at Florida park SeaWorld after she was attacked by a killer whale during a public performance...

A killer whale attacked a woman trainer during a SeaWorld show yesterday – savaging her and dragging her underwater where she drowned.

Horrified tourists saw the 12,000lb whale called Tillikum grab Dawn Brancheau, 40, by the waist and pull her into its pool. Seconds after the incident, sirens went off and SeaWorld employees rushed in to evacuate the audience.

Visitor Victoria Biniak said Dawn had finished telling visitors what they were about to see at the Florida park and was feeding the whales when she was yanked through the air. She said: ‘The whale shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer around the waist and began thrashing her around.’

Another onlooker Joao Sobrinho, 28, said: ‘It was terrible. The trainer was bleeding from the mouth and the whale turned her over and over as it swam.’

Dan Brown, president of SeaWorld Orlando, fought back tears as he confirmed Ms Brancheau had drowned. He said she had been one of the park’s most experienced trainers, having worked there for 16 years.

A former SeaWorld worker last night told the Orlando Senitel that 30-year-old Tillikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, had a history of violent behaviour and trainers had been warned not to get in the water with him. The whale, known as ‘Tilly’, was blamed for the drowning of one of his trainers in 1991 while he was performing at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia.

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