A bull killer whale killed a female trainer at Sea World Wednesday, in the Shamu Stadium. According to CNN the trainer was pronounced dead at the scene. This is not the first trainer attack that the 29-year-old orca, Tilikum, has been involved in. The killer whale has now been involved in three deaths.
Tilikum’s First Trainer Kill
According to a past PBS report, Tilikum was involved in an incident that killed trainer Keltie Byrne, at Sealand of the Pacific, in Victoria, Canada. On February 20, 1991, Tilikum and two female killer whales attacked Byrne, after she fell into the pool. One whale dragged her around by mouth, while the other two refused to let her out. The trainer drowned from being held under water.
Sealand put the killer whale up for sale in September of 1991. Sea World applied for a permit to import the whales in November of that year. Before the display permit evaluation had been completed, Sea World convinced Thorsteinn Palsson, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, that Tilikum was unsuitable to return to Icelandic waters. The argument was that the killer whale could not survive in the wild and that the orca may introduce disease to Iceland’s aquatic environment.
Sea World Trainer Death Similar to Canadian Incident
Orange County officials televised a press conference around 3:30 p.m., stating that a female trainer was killed when she slipped into the pool at Sea World’s Shamu Stadium. Also similar to the Canadian whale trainer death, this trainer was also drown. Foul play is being ruled out and the death is now being considered an accident.
Dan Brown, Sea World Orlando’s vice president and general manager, said that the trainer was one of Sea World’s most experienced animal trainers.
Tilikum Has Killed at Sea World Before
In 1999, the killer whale was responsible for the death of a 22-year-old man. The man had hidden himself in Sea World, until the park closed. He then climbed into the tank with Tilikum. His body was found floating in the water. This is the second death of a human Tilikum had been involved in.
Sea World Spokesman Evasive in Press Conference?
During the press conference, Brown stated, “We’ve never in the history of our parks experienced an incident like this.”
That may technically be true, but digging into Sea World and the killer whale’s past proves that all aspects of this tragic event have occurred, culminating in Wednesday’s death. A Sea World trainer wasn’t killed, but was injured in a 2006 show at Shamu Stadium. He was also held underwater by a killer whale. The trainer was hospitalized.
This, in addition to Tilikum’s two previous killer events, all seem to equal what happened at Sea World Wednesday. Brown stated that the water park will now be reviewing standard operating procedures. Three deaths and one known injury by killer whales later.
Televised Press Conference on CNN