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Tilikum

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SeaWorld, in Orlando, Florida is known for its fabulous interactions with stingrays, dolphins, seals, and the largest, the killer whale. Killer Whales are large, beautiful, 8-ton mammals. They like cold water such as most of them not in captivity live in the Artic Waters. They have excellent hunting skills and are very agile. They are one of the ocean’s top predators. They are also known as “Orcas” or “Wolves of the Sea”.
SeaWorld has a reputation for rehabilitating animals so they can be put back in their natural habitats. One of these animals, a killer whale, is called Tilikum. Many know Tilikum as “Shamu”. Shamu was rescued and is now used as a performer for families from all around who come and see this amazing animal do tricks. The trainers always wear their hair in ponytails (girls) and wet suits.

On February 24, 2010 the trainer Dawn Brancheau was preforming in the show “Believe.” But when she signaled the whale to jump up out of the water. Tilikum grabbed her ponytail and started thrashing her around. Her fellow trainers then dragged her out of the water, dead.
Many people who were watching say that Dawn Brancheau’s death is Tilikum’s fault. A family that watched this terrible tragedy wanted to sue SeaWorld and have SeaWorld kill the whale.

The family does have a point. Since the attack, many children have been afraid to sit up in the front, close to the whale. Tilikum was also the cause of two other deaths. In 1991, Tilikum, drowned a female trainer. In 1999, he drowned a male trainer. The story of Dawn Brancheau still haunts the family and SeaWorld today.

However, animals are animals and are therefore unpredictable. The trainers who get in the water with the whales are taking a risk by doing this job in the first place, and the consequences are set very clearly. The parents of Dawn Brancheau are not suing. This is one accident out of many that could happen. Many need to realize that kids like me go to that wonderful place every day and they have the best day of their life. We would not be able to see many of these wonderful animals without SeaWorld.

Thirteen months after the attack, Tilikum returned to his SeaWorld home in Orlando, Florida. When he does his performances all the trainers remain out if the water and far from the whale. There is now a memorial outside the gates of SeaWorld in honor of her. Some people put the stuffed animals that they win in games on the memorial. Killer Whales will always be dangerous, but that is a risk we are willing to take.



Works Cited


Gutman, Matt. “SeaWorld’s Killer Whale Makes Splashy Return to Stage, Gets Thunderous Ovation.” Abcnews.gov. ABCNews Internet Ventures. March 9, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/US/killer-whale-tilikum-makes-big-splash-seaworld-13/story?id=13254217#.T1qS25glbFI.


Kluger, Jeffrey. “Killer-Whale Tragedy: What made Tilikum Snap.” Time.com. Time Inc. March 9, 2012. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1968249,00.html.

“Orcas (Killer Whales).” National Geographic Kids. National Geographic Society. March 9, 2012. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/orca/.





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