ORLANDO - Veteran whale trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed Wednesday at Sea World while working with one of the whales. Witnesses in the front row of the stadium say they shot video of Brancheau with the whale moments before the attack.
The trainer who is feeding the whale fish is Dawn Brancheau, according to Suzanne and Tom Connell, who shot the video.
The Connells were visiting Sea World with their 10-year-old son, celebrating his birthday. They say they were sitting poolside in the front row of Shamu stadium, where they say Brancheau was interacting with the whale before the attack.
The video shows the trainers splashing water on the whale and feeding it fish.
"She was happy. She was smiling. I think she probably died doing what she loved doing," Suzanne Connell said.
"It seems surreal that this whole thing happened. A nice day down at Sea World and we couldn't believe what we were seeing, what we were witnessing. Just unbelievable," Todd Connell said.
Sea World president Dan Brown said Brancheau was one of the park's most experienced trainers, and said the attack was devastating news.
"It is an extraordinarily difficult time for the park and team members," Brown said. "We have never in the history of our parks experienced an incident like this."
So it happened (again). Tilikum the Killer Whale accidentally killed a professional trainer. I chose the word "accidentally" because I don't wanna believe any captured animals / pets would want to attack their trainers / owners. A wild animal was doing what a wild animal does. That isn't his fault but simply his nature. Tilikum is obviously unhappy, and needs a different situation. I am devastated by this news, but I am also one of those folks that believes these beautiful creatures are best left in their natural habitat.
For creatures in captivity life is not always easy. I wonder if people would ever be satisfied just by watching images of animals in their habitat taken by well placed cameras in remote places rather then remove animals from the wild and train them to do tricks and things that are not in their nature. As an alternative, the large collections of wild shots could be edited and made to illustrate story lines with tricks and so on, just like other films Disney creates with domestic animals. We all like stories. It could be fun, lucrative and guilt free for everyone involved.
Stop seeing the torment of the last large ocean mammals. Those who pay the price of admission are to blame for the torture of these animals. Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to Dawn Brancheau's family... She died doing what she loved doing, may her soul rest in peace.