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Killer Whales, Trainers Return to SeaWorld Shows

The Epoch Times

Original Article »

February 25, 2011

Killer whales are returning to shows in Sea World—a year after a trainer was killed at a park in Orlando, media reports on Thursday have said.

The theme park is launching a new whale show again but with newer safety measures to prevent another tragedy, reports CBS News.

Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer, was killed last year when she was attacked and drowned by a killer whale named Tillikum. The whale is still at Sea World but is kept at a distance from the public and trainers, said the report.

The 12,000-pound Orca grabbed Brancheau by her hair and dragged her to the bottom of the pool in front of an audience on Feb. 24, 2010.

Under the new park regulations, the trainers will not perform “rocket hops,” where they are launched into the air by the whales, in front of the public. They will go in the water with the whales only when they are doing trainingand will be protected by metal cages.

"I would like to be able to tell you that I think our whales are going to be very comfortable doing this," Chuck Tompkins, a curator for zoological operations for SeaWorld Parks, told the Orlando Sentinel. "But that's the reason we're taking our time. We're taking nothing for granted."

In the next few months, trainers will do a limited amount of “water work” with the whales, the company told the Sentinel. Trainers and the whales will do their training in small medical pools with false-bottom floors.

Critics of the plan to put trainers back in the water with the killer whales say that the new precautions are not sufficient.

“They're certainly masking the issue that the whales are really bored,” former SeaWorld trainer John Jett told CBS News. “You deprive them of all the social stimulation, environmental stimulation and expect him to do well. You know, it seems to me to be a recipe for disaster.”


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