Spectators at Orlando’s Sea World were witness to more than just some cute looking Killer Whales also known Orcas jump out of the water and do a few tricks, on Wednesday 24th February, 2010. It was during a show packed with an audience, that a Killer whale named Tilikum snatched a trainer from a poolside platform with its jaws and thrashed the woman around underwater, killing her as spectators watched horrified.
Officials fail to confirm that it was an attack, saying the 40-year-old female trainer- Dawn Brancheau slipped or fell into the tank leading to the horrific incident. Eye-witness’ however, clearly told reporters a different tale, stating that the trainer was rubbing the 12,000 pound whale’s belly, when it suddenly took off really fast, came around right up to the glass, jumped up grabbed the trainer by the waist and started violently thrashing about till just a shoe came floating up to the surface. More than a few witness’ recount events of the incident in the same way and park authorities and the Sheriff’s Office maintain that it was an accident with no sense of foul play.
This was not the first incident the same Killer whale Tilikum was implicated in. Two previous deaths were linked to the same whale in the past, another trainer that was performing with the whale in Canada in the year 1991, while the second incident though not confirmed as an attack was when a naked body was found in its tank in 1999. Other deaths and attacks by killer whales at different Sea Worlds and this recent one included have sparked off the age old debate of keeping this wild marine animal and others in confined tanks.
Killer whales (Orcinus orca) commonly known as Orcas belong to dolphin family. Quite unlike it’s portrayal in ‘Free Willy’ the Hollywood blockbuster Orcas are not the friendliest or nicest of whales. In fact they are quite the predators in the ocean and hunt sharks, marine mammals including sea lions, seals, walruses and even large whales. Although they aren’t a direct threat to humans, they are known to be aggressive when kept in tanks, as big as they are to us may seem bath tub sized to the whales that are used to swimming thousands of miles across oceans in their life. With nearly two dozen attacks since the 1970s by captive killer whales it’s clearly a sign that they are not meant for captivity and shows plain cruelty towards these animals.
This incident is in stark contrast to the story – Beluga Whale Saves Free Diver from Drowning