Killer Whale Involved in Death Returns to SeaWorld

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

The killer whale involved in the death of a trainer in February 2010 will return to action at SeaWorld today. The amusement park was fined $75,000 by OSHA after the 12,000-lb. orca named Tilikum pulled 40-year-old trainer Dawn Branchaeu underwater and maimed her while visitors watched.

“Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum’s day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment,” SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark told WESH. “He has been regularly interacting with his trainers and the other whales for purposes of training, exercise and social and mental stimulation, and has enjoyed access to all of the pools in the Shamu Stadium complex.”

The theme park has made changes to the stadium and instituted changes for its trainers since the death.

To understand the incident, read Tim Zimmermann's Outside feature, The Killer in the Pool.

–Joe Spring


promo logo