An experienced trainer at SeaWorld Orlando was killed by a 12,000-pound (5,443kg), 22-ft-long (6.7-metres) orca whale on February 24.
Dawn Brancheau, 40, was in the whale holding area when she either slipped or fell into the tank. The whale, named Tillikum, approached the glass side of the 35ft-deep tank at the Shamu Stadium, jumped up and grabbed the trainer by the waist, shaking her violently.
“It is with great sadness that I report that one of our most experienced animal trainers drowned in an incident with one of our killer whales this afternoon,” SeaWorld president Dan Brown said in a brief statement to reporters. “We’ve initiated an investigation to determine, to the extent possible, what occurred.”
The accident occurred following a “Dine with Shamu” show as at least 20 tourists watched from above a whale tank and from an underwater viewing area.