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SeaWorld to start up 'Dine with Shamu' again

Orlando Sentinel

Original Article »

January 13, 2011

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is preparing to restart a killer-whale show that has been suspended since the death of a trainer nearly a year ago.

"Dine with Shamu," a limited admission performance in which guests eat a buffet meal while watching trainers work with one of SeaWorld's orcas, will restart Feb. 26 at SeaWorld San Antonio and sometime this spring at the company's two other U.S. marine parks, SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego.

The show had been in limbo since Feb. 24 of last year, when SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who had just concluded a 'Dine' session with a six-ton orca named Tilikum, was grabbed by the animal, pulled into the water and killed. Some guests still were in the viewing area when it happened.

SeaWorld continues to battle fallout from Brancheau's death, including a court fight with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which fined the company $75,000 and recommended trainers never again be allowed unprotected contact with Tilikum.

SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said the company is in the midst of making changes to its show areas to prepare for new performances. It is installing glass in the guest dining and viewing area and a new surface around the edge of the pool, among other changes.

Jacobs said Tilikum will not be used in the show, at least initially.

"It is possible that at some point in the future he'll be part of DWS, but not when it opens this spring," Jacobs said.

Launched in 2002, Dine with Shamu had become a lucrative venture for SeaWorld. The company charges about $40 per adult for the experience.

SeaWorld said it has begun accepting reservations for Dine performances in San Antonio. Bookings have not yet started in Orlando or San Diego.


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