Sea World is in defending itself this week against citations issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the aftermath of trainer Dawn Brancheau's death in early 2010. In opening statements Monday morning, federal lawyers said that those citations were valid, arguing that killer whales "have the potential to cause serious physical harm or death to people who get near them." In February 2010, Tilikum, a killer whale with a troubling history of aggression toward humans, killed Brancheau during a live performance at a Sea World park in Orlando. OSHA, a division of the Department of Labor, later launched a six-month investigation into Brancheu's death that let to three citations charging Sea World with failing to adequately protect its employees. Sea World, which says OSHA misunderstands animal training, is challenging those citations in court this week. On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory A. Presnell denied a motion from Brancheu's family seeking to withhold video recordings of the trainer's death.
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