A whale in captivity at an Orlando, Florida SeaWorld amusement park killed an experienced marine animal trainer in front of a horrified audience. “Dawn Brancheau, 40, was stroking the 12,300-pound bull orca named Tilikum, when it grabbed her by the waist and dragged her into a pool. Members of the audience, who witnessed the attack, said the whale “thrashed her all around” and pulled her under the water. It has now emerged that Tilikum, known as Tilly, was still being allowed to perform despite being responsible for the deaths of two other people in previous attacks. SeaWorld has now suspended killer whale shows at its parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio. However, experts are still baffled as to how Brancheau, described as one of the park’s most experienced whale trainers, was killed. There have been conflicting reports surrounding the circumstances of how the tragedy unfolded at lunchtime on Wednesday. Police said Brancheau ‘apparently slipped and fell’ into Tilly’s tank. But witnesses among around 50 tourists who stayed behind after a show to watch trainers feed the orcas, painted a more terrifying picture. Victoria Biniak said she was watching as Brancheau talked about the show to a crowd of people when she was suddenly swept away in the whale’s mouth.”
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