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SeaWorld Orlando spokesperson says Tilikum, the orca that killed trainer, 'likely' will perform again

SeaWorld has not decided whether an orca that killed its trainer by dragging her into the water will keep performing, an official said Tuesday.

In the days after Dawn Brancheau died, the park's top official pledged that the killer whale named Tilikum would return to SeaWorld's shows. But park spokesman Fred Jacobs said Tuesday that nothing will be decided about the orca's future until after a thorough review of the accident.

"On reflection, we really can't say anything about Tilikum or the other killer whales until the review is complete," said park spokesman Fred Jacobs. "We do feel that it is likely Tilikum will return to the shows but to promise that is premature."

Brancheau, 40, was killed almost two weeks ago after being thrashed underwater by the orca after a performance. Tilikum has been involved in two other deaths, one of a trainer at a Canadian park and another of a man who sneaked past security and was found draped over the orca's body at SeaWorld.

While SeaWorld officials consider Tilikum's future, the park and Brancheau's family are trying to suppress video footage of the attack. A SeaWorld camera captured the accident and the footage was turned over to law enforcement. Once the Orange County Sheriff's Department concludes its investigation, the material will become public under Florida law.

Brancheau's family said Monday through a spokesman that public airing of the killing would only worsen their grief.

They could seek a court injunction to stop the release, at least temporarily. The family has been consulting the lawyer who represented Dale Earnhardt's widow in a successful court fight that prevented the release of autopsy photos of the race car driver.

-- Associated Press

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Video: Tilikum swims at SeaWorld Orlando. Credit: Tucuxi3 via YouTube

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Indeed it's always a tragedy when someone dies and I understant the grief Brancheau's family and friends are going through. Yet it doesn't seem correct to say it was an accident since Dawn Brancheau intentionally interacted with a killer whale, who is certainly a killer whale. Let this tragedy remind us that animals in captivity don't choose to be there neither to perform for an audience.

In my opinion, and out of respect for the family of the deceased, Tilikum shouldn't return to the show. Many people will feel curiosity to see him after this incident, that will only benefit SeaWorld even more. Tilikum should be brought to a whales sanctuarium, he was captured when he was 2 and provably wouldn't adapt to the wild again.

Maybe someone who knows more about orcas could help me here, but I notice his dorsal fin droops down like the whale featured in the film "Free Willy," who I understood had that feature due to the neglect he experienced at his theme park in Mexico. Does it indicate malnourishment or disease? Or does that just happen to some orcas?


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