Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Killer whale shows at SeaWorld San Diego were suspended today after a woman trainer was killed by an orca at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., a spokesman for the theme park said.
The spokesman said he anticipated that killer whale shows will resume in San Diego tomorrow, saying it was typical to have a "dry show or no show" if there was an emergency.
Dan Brown, the general manager of SeaWorld Orlando, characterized the attack as a "drowning."
"I must emphasize this is an extraordinarily difficult time for the SeaWorld parks and our team members," Brown said. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees guests and the animals entrusted into our care."
"We have never in the history of our parks experienced an incident like this and all of our standard operating procedures will come under review as part of this investigation," he said.
Eyewitnesses told local television stations that the 12,000-pound whale, which the female trainer had just introduced as a public show started, came out of the water and grabbed the woman by the waist and shook her violently.
The whale, Tilikum, who has been in Orlando since 1992, and was involved in the July 1999 death of a man who sneaked into the park after closing and got into the 50-degree water with the whale, ABC News reported. An autopsy listed hypothermia as the cause of death.
In 2006, a trainer at SeaWorld in San Diego was attacked by a killer whale during a show, but survived. The trainer was injured when a killer whale named Kasatka grabbed his foot and twice took him to the bottom of a 36-foot- deep tank.