Killer Whale Will Remain Part of Sea World Shows, Statement From Family

Feb. 26 2010, Published 4:30 a.m. ET

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The shows at all three SeaWorld parks will resume tomorrow, but trainers will not be allowed inside water tanks until an internal investigation is complete, has confirmed.

VIDEO: Expert Whale Trainer Made Fatal Mistake

In a News Conference from Orlando, Florida, Friday afternoon, SeaWord CEO Jim Atchison said “we will make improvements and changes and move forward.”

Atchison also confirmed that Tilikum, the killer whale, grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau’s ponytail and pulled her underwater Wednesday.

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Although the 12,000-pound whale was connected with two other deaths, Atchison says “no animal is ever subject to any punishment and Tilikum is no exception.”

Atchison, who held his news conference in front of a huge tank of killer whales, called Tilikum “a wonderful animal.”

He said the orca “ will remain an active contributing member of the team, despite what happened.”  Atchison also reveals that a surveillance camera caught video of the incident and that it was offered to authorities.

A trust will be formed in the name of 40 year-old  Dawn Brancheau, whom Atchison called “a much beloved employee.”

He also released this statement from her family:

Whale Trainer Died From Multiple Traumatic Injuries and Drowing

“You have all heard what an amazing trainer Dawn Brancheau was, and that is true.

She was the best. It came natural to her. Being a trainer was a lifelong dream that she achieved.

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She loved her job and she loved her animals. For her husband, family and friends, Dawn was so much more—a compassionate and loving person who lived life to the fullest.

She touched so many lives. To those who loved her and suffered a tremendous loss, one so unexpected, it is extremely difficult to even process or comprehend at this time. Our family sincerely appreciates everyone’s prayers and compassion and thoughts for Dawn and her husband and family. While we understand that this tragic event is capturing headlines across the country, at this time our family needs space and privacy to absorb our loss. We sincerely hope that the media will honor this request.”

Funeral services will be held in Chicago Sunday and Monday. And a memorial service will be held in Orlando at a later date.


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