SeaWorld Scandal

By Jayden Cathey

Dawn Brancheau, who worked at SeaWorld for 15 years, died on February 24, 2010. At the end of the ‘Dine with Shamu’ show, where guests dine in an open-air restaurant while watching the performance, Brancheau was seen rubbing Tilikum’s head. The orca she was doing the show with. She was lying face to face with him on a slide-out, a platform submerged in about a foot of water. Seaworld claims Tilikum pulled her into the water by her ponytail. Witnesses report seeing Tilikum grab her by her arm or shoulder. The orca was said to be very quick, pulling her under and drowning her. At least a dozen customers saw her in the water with him. Employees threw food and used nets to distract Tilikum. Eventually, they directed him to a medical pool, where it would be easier to calm him down. 45 minutes later Tilikum released Brancheu’s body.

Brancheau died of blunt force trauma and drowning according to the autopsy. Her spinal cord was severed as well as fractures to her jawbone, ribs, and a cervical vertebrae. Her scalp was torn completely from her head and her left elbow and knee had been dislocated.

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