Very sad news coming out of Orlando today. This happened during an actual show and not during rehearsal or anything.
SeaWorld Orlando: 1 dead at SeaWorld Orlando Shamu attraction - OrlandoSentinel.com
Statement from Jim Atchison, President and CEO, Seaworld Parks and EntertainmentA SeaWorld employee died this afternoon during an incident at SeaWorld's Shamu Stadium, an Orange County Sheriff's Office official confirmed.
SeaWorld, rescue personnel and the Sheriff's Office are not revealing the identity of the victim, although a local TV station is reporting that a female employee was killed after she was grabbed by one of the theme park's whales at the start of a public show.
Park guest Victoria Biniak told Local 6 that the trainer was a veteran of SeaWorld and had just finished explaining to the audience the show they were about to see.
At that point, Biniak said, the whale came up from the water and grabbed the woman.
"He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent,'" Biniak told Local 6.
The whale "took off really fast in the tank, and then he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing around, and one of her shoes flew off."
She said sirens went off and everyone was forced to leave the stadium.
Guests were evacuated from the area, and the whale show was cancelled. The park is not shut down.
A Message from Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
UPDATE: February 25thFebruary 24, 2010
It is with great sadness that I report that one of our most experienced animal trainers drowned in an incident with one of our killer whales this afternoon, February 24, 2010 at our SeaWorld Orlando park.
We have initiated an investigation to determine, to the extent possible, what occurred. There are no other details to share at this point, but we will make our findings known in due course.
I must emphasize that this is an extraordinarily difficult time for the SeaWorld parks, and our team members.
Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, guests and the animals entrusted to our care. All of our standard operating procedures will come under review as part of the investigation.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the trainer and will do everything possible to assist them in this difficult time.
We appreciate everyone’s understanding and will share more information as it becomes known and available.
Sea World posted comments about the fate of Tilly on their blog:
There are also some operational updates for both Sea World Orlando and San Diego (San Antonio is still closed for the season)
Update: February 26thSeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego will be open Thursday, February 25 as scheduled (SeaWorld San Antonio is not yet open for the season) but Believe shows and Dine with Shamu experiences at all SeaWorld locations have been suspended; no decision has been made for future dates at this time
According to a press conference today, the killer whale shows will resume tomorrow.
SeaWorld CEO says shows with killer whales will resume Saturday - CNN.com
(CNN) -- SeaWorld will resume killer whale shows while the company and two federal agencies investigate the death of a whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, company and federal officials announced Friday.
The shows, which were suspended at all SeaWorld locations after the death Wednesday at SeaWorld Orlando, will resume Saturday with new precautionary measures in place, said Jim Atchison, president of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Earlier Friday, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced they were looking into the death of Dawn Brancheau, 40.
Brancheau was pulled underwater when a killer whale named Tilikum grabbed her ponytail. She died from multiple injuries and drowning.Atchison said Tilikum "is a wonderful animal" and "will remain an active and contributing member of the team despite what happened."
"He's a very special animal that requires special handling. Obviously the procedures that we've had in place are something we're revisiting at this point," he said.
Tilikum's size and weight -- 12,000 pounds, compared with 6,000 to 9,000 pounds for the facility's other killer whales -- was one reason there were separate procedures in place for him at the Orlando facility.
When the shows with killer whales resume Saturday at Orlando and other SeaWorld parks, trainers won't get into the water with the animals. "Direct interactions" with the animals were suspended in all three SeaWorld parks after the death.