February 26, 2010

SeaWorld to give more details Friday in trainer's death

Posted: 09:07 AM ET

SeaWorld has scheduled a Friday news conference to discuss an accident that left a trainer dead after she was attacked by a whale, a spokesman said.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, died Wednesday from multiple injuries and drowning after a 12,000-pound whale grabbed her ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at Shamu Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff's office said Thursday.

She was "pulled underwater for an extended period of time," Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld's curator of zoological operations, told CNN's "American Morning."

Tompkins said Brancheau was interacting with the whale, Tilikum, in knee-deep water when the animal grabbed her hair. Rescuers were not immediately able to reach her because the whale was too aggressive, the sheriff's office said.

She was recovered by SeaWorld staff members after Tilikum was coaxed into a smaller pool and lifted out of the water by a large platform on the bottom of the smaller tank, authorities said.

"While this incident remains the subject of an ongoing death investigation, there are no signs of foul play," the sheriff's statement said. "All evidence and witness statements indicate that the death was a tragic accident."

(read more)

Filed under: Larry King Live

Share this on:
j   February 26th, 2010 11:08 am ET

BOYCOTT sea world

Gerald Jolly   February 26th, 2010 11:19 am ET




j   February 26th, 2010 12:02 pm ET

an idiot who cares deeply about whales.....they should be free in their beautiful ocean.....they are very are right it was an accident....tilli didnt mean to hurt this trainer....just probably showing its frustrtion swimming in circles....DO YOU SEE HIS FIN....geeeeeeez

j   February 26th, 2010 1:13 pm ET

by the way gerald jolly......are you a republican......i do not mean to categorize.......there are goofy republicans and goofy democrats but after watching the health reform meeting yesterday i don't think republicans care very much about human beings...... forget about the animals

Gerald Jolly   February 26th, 2010 1:51 pm ET

@ j,

You have mortaly wonded me, from something I may never recover from.

Calling me a REPUGNANTCAN is tantamount to giving me ARSENIC.

I have been on this earth for too many years, and in my younger days, if a person ever called me a REPUGNANTCAN, it would have been reason for beating the tar out of him.

One can say many bad things about Democrats, but no one can ever say that they ooze out of the cesspools of slime that a REPUGNANTCAN does.

Gerald Jolly   February 26th, 2010 1:59 pm ET

@ j

The Orcas fin is normal, when you see them in the wild, many have fins that stand straight up, and many have dorsal fins that are bent like that.

Also, I suggest that you learn to understand something about cynisism, my post was intended to make a mockery about a MORON that would say anything as stupid as "IT WAS A TRAGIC ACCIDENT" needs to be analysed for his/her intelligence.

This should tell you the level of people who are keeping these mamals in captivity for the benefit of nothing else but "PROFIT"

As far as Jack Hanna, when he tried to make a case for Sea Worlds point of view in this matter it is because he recieves tons of money to fund his travels throughout the "FREE ANIMAL KINGDOM"

Just another BOOB willing to stroke his bosses for a buck.

j   February 26th, 2010 2:10 pm ET

i am sorry gerald jolly....i read your post as if you were calling me an is my understanding though that the orca fin is bent because of stress and being in captivity. In the wild, dorsal fin collapse is rare, and the deformity is believed to have a different set of causes than in captivity.

i did not mean to mortaly wound sure i ruined your

Cajazz76:24:8   February 26th, 2010 2:45 pm ET

@Sea World

I believe we have heard enough..your a constant tragedy continually waiting to happen.

I believe that most sane and demure people are quite content watching show's like National G and such, where animals are filmed from obscure position's and not disturbed in their natural realm. Yes, man has an affinity of curiosity and excitement.

But with the profit incentive's contrived by greedy and heartless founder's of COMPANIES like Sea World, you draw on the less appealing characteristic side of man, his innate animal lust for excitement... to gain profit.

Silly human race. We are the attraction and spectacle of wonder, to those you CAGE.

Gerald Jolly   February 26th, 2010 3:49 pm ET

@ j

Thank you.

Gerald Jolly   February 26th, 2010 3:54 pm ET

For all of you that care.

Jack Hanna's stupid leather hat is made from the skin of a Camon, an alligator like reptile that used to exist in large numbers in South America, before man went in and eploited them for profit for their hides.

Jack is often refered too, by many people as "KNOBHEAD HANNA"

j   February 26th, 2010 4:16 pm ET

@gerald jolly (didnt know the protocol)

you are welcome...hope you feel better

after thinking i was being called an idiot and moron..that was my best insult comeback

see you have as much passion for animals as i do for the whales

CAM   February 26th, 2010 4:41 pm ET

They may have used the whale and other creatures to gain a profit, it costs money to do what they do, and they do it well. Had I not gone to places like Sea World, I would not have known the beauty and majesty of these whales or other species. I was amazed and awed by what I saw and I sure didn't see a whale who needed prozac. They seemed quite content, and were treated with great respect and care. I would not appriciate or care as much because I had no reference point or experience to understand if I hadn't seen and my wife hadn't kissed Shamu at its last show at Marine Land. They do provide a valid public service. It is important we work with the creatures of this planet - Commune with them.How much good has Sea World done? Is it bad, evil, spurious, self serving? Or does it do more good than given credit?

If you are smarter than a republican or democrat who's stuck in the rutt of politics, or a person or someone who cares more about a whale than a human life, and what we have to offer, please respond.

Callie   February 26th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

I feel that first & foremost we need to first learn to work with one another, to love and appreciate one another, to commune with one another, to raise our consciousness and that of others; then and only then can we understand the splendor of the animals that we share a home with, and interact with them with their best interest in mind. We are all One. We are all connected. Everything is conscious. When we understand consciousness, we understand our world, and our separation to it falls away. It's all for Love....L.O.V.E : )

Dodie   February 26th, 2010 5:13 pm ET

@ Jack Hanna and Sea World. The Orcas are giving you a message. I strongly advise you take their directive unless you want more repercussions akin to the incident on Wednesday. How many lives must be lost before you give way to your greedy position and set free the orcas; which are in most cases, of higher intellectual functioning than YOU!

… @ Jack Hanna old dear and sweet one. My recommendation is you never enter the ocean as these orcas have excellent memory most likely much better than yours and will come after you!

Better you purchase a bigger ‘hat’ so you can hide!!!

j   February 26th, 2010 10:42 pm ET


i recommend the documentary...the cove

victor   February 26th, 2010 11:49 pm ET

I am sad to note that all who spoke in favor of keeping this kind of "animal circus" going are all thinking the Business must go on.
Those are killer whales and should not be captive nor play with humans. Manimals are moody and they are not humans. Dawn Died and it is a tragedy. Sea World should release all those Orcas. This kind of entertainment should be outlawed; putting Manimals in a tank for slavery is not normal Especially with tthe same kind of entertainment can be recreated digitally with games kids / Adults can enjoy. I am sick to see people protecting Sea World's mistake.

A. Smith, Oregon   February 27th, 2010 12:25 am ET

The video's made mere minutes before the trainer went to the other side of the tank to engage with Tilly with a belly-rub and was reportedly pulled under SHOW a metal object around her neck of about 3 inches in length. The object looks very much like the small silver fish she was feeding Tilly and other Orcha's mere minutes earlier.

In my opinion Tilly thought that object was another fish the trainer was going to feed him and closed his mouth on it, when the trainer pulled back Tilly the Orcha pulled her down into the pool thinking it was a game of tug of war. However the object was securely hung around the trainers neck.

If Tilly had actually attacked the trainer, there would be multiple body parts in the pool after-wards. Next to a huge Orcha, humans are as fragile as an egg shell and the tiniest confusion on Tilly or the trainers part can result in the gravest of consequences and outcomes.

I'm very sad the emergency medical rescue staff was unable to rescue and resuscitate the trainer after she drowned. The world seems sadder with the loss of animal advocates such as Steve Irwin and now Dawn Brancheau. RIP Dawn, thank you for your dedication, strength and courage.

A. Smith, Oregon   February 27th, 2010 4:28 am ET

The US Senate should craft a bill that would make it illegal to keep any Orcha Whale in captivity over 1/2 of its expected lifespan before releasing that Orcha Whale back into the Ocean.

I can think of no greater memorial to the brave and dedicated Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau who tragically lost her life showing the world how beautiful and graceful these huge sentient creatures are.

Oregonians rescued Willie-Kiko a female Orcha Whale from a Mexican resort tank and after medical rehab successfully released Willie-Kiko back to the Ocean where she lived free for her last 10 years and died as a free Orcha Whale with her pod mates.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   February 27th, 2010 4:40 am ET

Just looking at the video clip of those whales (I don't like to call them "Killer Whales")...........they look more like dolphins really.............I was actually cringing, sorry to say.

I felt for those they looked so confined in there. Swimming around and wonder they probably end up with behavioural problems.

Wouldn't the males have more aggressive tendencies I wonder. I know females do when they have a form of protection.

There are questions??????? If they are supposed to be Killer Whales.........why are they allowed to interact with humans like that in the first place.

Another one is........were they meant to perform tricks like that. I know they are very intelligent animals..........but should they be put through that. They jump around in their natural environments........ that is natural for them.

Personally, I would prefer to have those whales released back into their natural environment............if it is at all possible to do this. Thank you.

mike   February 27th, 2010 11:03 am ET

AJessie from Auckland NZ

Your above comment's are poetic...very nicely written..

j   February 27th, 2010 11:31 am ET

i felt for those they looked so confined in there. Swimming around and wonder they probably end up with behavioural problems

perfectly stated


Donald L Allen   February 28th, 2010 3:30 pm ET

what not to do don,t use the Internet to work doing art work if you do you or giving it away what we need the low of the people the low one it is not aloud to collect Cooke off or computer so you can do what you please with them see I believe in the turf and if you or taking form my computer you or stallion and that is the hole turf and that is the end of this store it a fact if you put it on the net worth and you use the serve,s you well be chard one way or the other even if you respond to a news program see you Donald L Allen PS it not a fair country and I well see you and I just want you to no I take business surly

Donald L Allen   February 28th, 2010 3:36 pm ET

and if you do what I,M saying you well be much better off I no trust me it a net gain thing and they only care about the money they can care less about your business and I no I been on the Internet for about 15 year,s it not gonna make no diff if you created the or saying that just so they can pay there Billie or live like a king Believe me it the true believe what I,M saying to you I have no reason to lie believe it the true see you Donald L Allen invent four the edit if you please if you do you well not half one thing but the net worth and that is the end of it see be good

Donald L Allen   February 28th, 2010 5:36 pm ET

Donald L Allen Atria it a joke and that well be the day ween I work four Obama it well not work like that just cas you want to Alick a principle it don,t mean I work four him you or just filling you self it want work like that I,M president fILeBot das global mean any thing to you I don,t care how want to in vest in my business I,M president hop you get it cas it what I mean and I don't care how much you want to call me ataris it don,t mater to me you get that and I did not vote four OBAMA you did have a wonderful day Donald L Allen

Donald L Allen   February 28th, 2010 5:37 pm ET

read my lip no more guv control you get it ove me I don,t care what you say see you and be good ILeeBot

Danielle, Monterey   February 28th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

On the night this show aired, you had agreed to allow Mr. and Mrs. Koenig to make a plea for help in finding their missing son, Andrew. Rather than split the time as promised, you used up all the time on this show talking about the sensationalism of the "killer whale" incident. This is not the first time you have done this, Larry. You also did not pay, in my opinion, ample respect to the death of Farrah Fawcett because, evidently, it wasn't as "news-worthy" as the death of Michael Jackson. I have never been a big fan of yours, but these two instances solidified for me why I will not support your show.

Donald Allen   February 28th, 2010 11:32 pm ET

what about the anger management what do you think the president sued use sum or the one you call president what if he wood take sum well hop you like the photo you no it all most like OBAMA got one on bush he has the sole right he may have that in common it one thing if not more it like there like in one you see what I see and you well believe it Donald L Allen see you

Donald Allen   February 28th, 2010 11:36 pm ET

well ween you play with the wild you no it a chance I,M care about what happening but you no and I no the and meal is will and they don't no what it like to be human sorry but it the way it is I,M sorry Donald see you and take keys of your self

CAM   March 2nd, 2010 2:02 pm ET

@ j

Hey j, saw the doc "Cove," before this incident. HORRIBLE what's going on there, fortunately Japanese fishermen don't run Sea World.

To the rest of the readers, I see a lot of people writting how stressed out the whales are. Really? Based on what? Speculation? Any time you work with such powerful creatures, even those who have had apes and other species in unconfined reserves are subject to potential injury or death, they're animals. Let's be real - It's inevitable. I fear this incident is being grabbed as a spurious means to sieze power and leverage by some. Won't work.

Furthermore, they are named "killer whales" because they are prolific hunters by nature. I'm suprised there aren't deaths all the time. I don't know of, or believe there is evidence of, or patern of agressive behavior toward the trainers or caregivers due to captivity– let's be honest, it's randome. Nevertheless, it IS a wonderful thing to see the interaction and connection between these magnificent creatures and humans. And it will contunue. WHY? In truth there is some good stuff going on here.

Some of you beautiful people who care so much for our wildlife, and bless you for it, seem to fall into the trap of overstating, or manupulatin events to make your point. Then there is a shoving match. Not good. Without honesty and integrity we won't come to an accurate conclussion and the truth and unity eludes us. Thus we miss the mark, and too often not enough gets done because of arguments, opposition. But it's good to question, and examine, and discuss, it keeps things in check.

I don't believe for one moment these trainers don't care deeply about these creatures, more so than you or me. So why aren't they falling aside by great numbers and protesting? Sure they get paid - to do what they love. They risk their lives and believe it's a good cause. These whales are in good hands.

You want better facilities, raise, donate the money, they'll build them. That's certain. Something you CAN DO for the whales. They will never release all these whales from "captivity" not gong to happen, ever. Especially with the benfits outweighing opposing concern.

Until then, unless proven otherwise, I am leaning toward projects of this quality as benificial to us, science, and the whales as a specie.

My best to all of you who care.

Comments have been closed for this article

Keep up to date with Larry

Follow him on Twitter

Become a fan on Facebook

Contact us
Go Behind The Scenes


LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.

With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.

Order from:
Barnes & Noble

King of Hearts

Larry King's King of Hearts

Saving a heart a day is the goal! Learn more about the Foundation and it's efforts to help the uninsured

Visit the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP