Home / Autopsy Report Reveals SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau Was Brutally Attacked by Killer Whale

Autopsy Report Reveals SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau Was Brutally Attacked by Killer Whale

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Last night Florida's Orange County medical examiner released the autopsy report on the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. The report cites "multiple traumatic injuries and drowning" as the cause of death. The excessive injuries she suffered are contradictory to earlier reports that her death, on February 24th, 2010, was accidental, the result of over-zealous horseplay on the part of a killer whale she had been working with. It is clear from her injuries—and subsequent witness accounts that her body had to be pried from the orca's mouth, that this was a brutally violent attack.


Initial reports indicated that Brancheau had fallen into the tank, but these reports were amended after investigators examined witness statements and concluded that Brancheau had been grabbed by her ponytail and pulled into the tank by the 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum. There was also speculation that Brancheau may have inadvertently provoked Tilikum into the playful frenzy that resulted in his holding her underwater until she drowned. 

A seven-minute home video shot by a SeaWorld tourist just seconds before the attack, and released by Florida television station WESH, clearly shows Brancheau laughing and playing with Tilikum in the water literally seconds before her death. This video does not show the attack, and it also does not show how, or where, Brancheau entered the tank. But the video does show that she didn't seem to be panicked or in fear of Tilikum. Nor were her fellow trainers panicked in their calls to 911.

Perhaps Brancheau, and her co-trainers, should have been more concerned on that day. Dawn Brancheau was not Tilikum's first victim. He had already been blamed in the deaths of two other people. In 1991 he and two other orcas sharing his tank were blamed in the death of a marine trainer in British Columbia, Canada. Tilikum's horseplay was also blamed in the 1999 death of a 27-year-old man whose body was found mysteriously floating in the killer whale's holding tank. 

Brancheau's family has requested that autopsy photos, as well as video from SeaWorld's surveillance cameras, not be released to the public, but the medical examiner has released his findings. According to a news video released this morning on The Today Show, the medical examiner found blunt force injuries, broken ribs, broken sternum, dislocated elbow/knee, abrasions and contusions. Parts of the autopsy report are extremely graphic, saying that Brancheau's arm had been ripped from her body, her scalp torn from her skull and her spinal cord severed.

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  • Nunya

    As a medical student, after reading this autopsy I would have to dispute the cause of death here. The fact is she sustained excessive blood loss (showing she was still alive,) associated directly to her trauma. There is always the possibility that she may had drown due an excess of fluid located in the sphenoid sinus. However the amount is small and no other fluid was found in or around the lungs or heart. I would love to read transcripts from whatever civil or criminal suit that was brought forward due to this situation.

    • Judie Holtz Welch

      I know your reply is 2 years old, but I agree with you. I am a medical asst with 30 years experience and an interest in orcas and pathology. I too, thought that although there was fluid in the sinuses, there was none in the lungs. And the fact that her arm was amputated and scalp avulsed, I agree about the blood loss/shock as cause of death.

  • Another random

    lol well honestly I think we humans need to be put down if anything, you take an animal ANY animal an give it frustration, it will do exactly what we do, throw a temper tantrum …except lb for lb their literally devastatingly powerful to the extent that our fleshy little selves are pathetically helplessly weak compared to most. so say little timmy threw a rock at your kid it will of course draw blood and if throw with enough force kill your kid, our law will hold a court hearing to see what is done with little timmy …he’s a kid keep him alive maybe hel grow up to be a good boy tilikum kill him he’s dangerous well shit sherlock thank you but he isn’t pit that was bred from captivity he was born born free an an born with a mind set to survive with other massive and highly aggressive animals. put him him down? How dare you!

  • Just a person

    This whole ordeal spawns from a man selling a baby killer whale to a company called ‘sea world’. If I’m not mistaken, this same guy was a fisherman and killed both this baby’s mother and father. The baby whale’s name that he sold was Shamu. Sea world = legal black market. You can never fully train an animal and keep them captured like that. They won’t stay docile for long anyways. Animals are loyal in ways and have a very special bond with people. They should in no way be in show business. People just being people in the most natural form are as good of a show for animals in their own perspective. A 9 to 5 shift is not normal for animals. I cannot even imagine the sort of confusion that these animals must feel.

    • Judy

      I agree with you completely. People should not be trying to humanize these animals. They belong in their own world.

  • Jane

    To Isaias,
    Dawn was not in one piece when she was retrieved. I won’t go into details but she was not. And Tilikum most certainly wasn’t playing with her. He was trying to kill her and he did.
    It’s a tragedy as she clearly loved her job and unfortunately ended up in a situation that she could not get out of.

    • Rose Lucas

      Jane, go into details…sounds like you were there…tell us, for this is just not right that this death just “goes away” for the love of animals…
      I am sorry, but any animal that kills a human should be put down…let alone breed this into future generations…imagine a whole ocean of mentally aggressive animals mixing with the wild ones, none which have hurt a human….put him down.

      • I couldn’t disagree more.

        Just because a bad incident like this happens doesn’t mean that this animal or any of its descendants would be “mentally aggressive animals”.

        • Rob Knaggs

          Chris is right. If you’re going to keep in captivity a creature easily capable of killing human-sized prey, and documented in the wild to hunt animals up to the size of a sperm whale, and if furthermore you’re going to put humans in its tank with it, you shouldn’t be surprised that occasionally it will live up to its “nature”.

          What exactly would you accomplish by putting Tillikum down? Teach other killer whales a lesson?

          • Rose Lucas

            Any animal that kills a human can not be “unlearned” in this behavior. Its not about how they were captured and raised, this is a wrong in itself. Yet once learned, there is no reason, especially for breeding purposes should this animal to continue. This is precisely why Seaworld is holding on to him. ANYONE WHO HAS BRED ANIMALS CAN TELL YOU THIS IS THE TRUTH. This is not just a random opinion but one of standard practices of animal husbandry breeding for centuries. You bred for intelligence, confimation, health, and most importantly docility. Keiko aka Free Willy would have been the best type of breeder male for show purposes than this whale. Regardless, whales do not belong in a tank, nor do they need to be making meals of humans either.

          • Aiden

            I think you’ve perhaps forgotten the fact that Tillikum was repeatedly punished for his unwillingness to perform tricks, which I don’t think you can argue is something that wild animals would not usual do. If you’ve taken time to see some of the pictures of the facilities SeaWorld has, you would see that Tillikum was repeatedly put in a tank that was maybe 2-3 feet longer than his own body length, and 10(?) feet wider than his body width. What kind of conditions are those, even if they are a form of punishment?
            It is simply inhumane to do that to an animal or any other living creature for that matter. To STEAL an animal away from its natural habitat and force it into captivity, is wrong.
            Do some research, there have been no reports of orcas attacking humans while living in the wild. The only death/injury reports taken record of are in captivity, mainly SeaWorld and SeaLand. Tillikum is just an example of what captivity does to an animal that is not meant to be there.
            He was taken from his family at the age of 2, forced to live in a cement holding tank for a year, then taken to SeaLand. There are witness accounts stating that Tillikum often swam in small circles and floated aimlessly on the surface of the water, types of behavior that are not common with killer whales. As training techniques, food is often withheld from the whales and therefore they suffer from lack of nutrition. Their health slowly deteriorates, which also effects their teeth and causes them to fall out or be drilled out, and inevitably would make them frustrated. Tillikum was also often “bullied” by two dominant female orcas living at SeaWorld when he arrived.
            Addressing your point that these animals should not breed, do you recommend them going extinct?
            Humans exhibit just as much, if not more, violence as these orcas being held in captivity do. Do you recommend that humans stop breeding? Tillikum was bred against his will, meaning he didn’t want to. So how is it his fault? Exactly, it’s not.
            So please do your research before saying that an animal acting upon his frustration due to confinement deserves to die.

          • Rose Lucas

            Yes, in the wild, no animals have been known to attack. NOT TILLI.

            Yes, captured not at 2 but at 3-4, they were not sure of his age, yes, had a rough life, yes, stolen BUT NOW he is a killer of humans, SO YES, like a dog, wild mountain lion, bear, anything that harms and kills a human should be put down.

            I have been a breeder of animals, and have to had animals put down for temperament, for they could not be used for breeding purposes nor could they be around other animals nor humans. I have done my research, I have read the books, seen hundreds of pictures, watched numerous films on these fantastic creatures, read the 70 something reports of injuries to trainers, most that have been “descendents” of Tilli, and the Canary Islands whales are ALL Tilli’s descendents…The Canary Islands is where the other “death” of a Orca trainer that was just as violent than Dawn’s….have you read the reports? The ones that were reported that is…have you seen Blackfish?

            You have no argument from me that this circumstance was a man made tragedy, like most poor training of animals are…look at the dogs who attack their humans, or cats, tigers, horses, mules, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, mice, you name it, what ever we have domesticated… Destroying the animal that has harmed a human is standard breeding practices all over the world.

            ANYTHING WITH A MOUTH BITES is the mantra of a trainer/breeder…When YOU have done your research, you will know what I am saying is true.

            Confirmation, health and TEMPERAMENT…you don’t bred things that have bad temperament…there is no amount of training that can over come this single fact….no one will buy your animals, lawsuits can and do come and you will be out of the animal breeding business…end of story.

            Remember my friend, the pet at your side was once a wild animal…it was good breeding that made them the docile, loving and wonderful experience you have today…that docility can overcome any amount of poor training…that is the truth.

            With all that is going on with Fukoshima, the northern hemisphere and its pacific oceans are irradiated…and we are losing our oceans as we once knew it fast. The BC has no clam beds to be found on the pacific, the staple food of many wild life in their oceans… salmon is at a record low, star fish are melting, sea turtles, polar bears, seals and walruses are bleeding, missing skin and dying in record numbers…and deep sea creatures are rising up, scarred, beaching themselves and barely alive when found…that too was MAN MADE… Perhaps this Seaworld breeding program will be the ONLY ones with “rare” Orca when all is said and done…and all this talk for “its wrong” will one day be “Thank goodness”

            But to have Tilli’s genes of aggression?…NO…and if that is the genome that will be salvaged to release back in oceans a few hundred years from now…and then, there will be plenty of reports of “Wild Orca” killing humans…Put him down…and go get some seed from another Luna, or Keiko…but please, please…not Tilli….

          • Melissa Norman

            You and people with your like mentality are a real problem. To “put down” and animal that was frustrated, abused, forced to behave the way human beings think an Orca should behave, have limited movement its all just total shit.
            These animals like so many other animals that humans want to dominate and control are just reacting to being put in a situation that they DO NOT WANT TO BE IN. Corporate greed is disgusting and barbaric in these cases. He isn’t “genetically” agressive, he is acting out and doing what little he can to get his way. Something that he has never been lucky enough to have because he was unlucky enough to have crossed the path of humans.

            I think that everyone who was in control of keeping that animal penned and forcing it to be a performer should be “put down”. They are the ones responsible for those deaths. ORCA’S ARE NOT HUMANS, you cant control them, you can try and you might succeed for a little while and get lucky with some, but there are those that are what they are and they DO NOT WANT TO DO SHOWS AND THEY DO NOT WANT THIS LIFE BUT THEY HAVE NO CHOICE BECAUSE SOME HUMAN GREEDBAG “OWNS” THE ANIMAL!! Disgusting.

          • Mr.E

            Melissa so what you are saying is that if your neighbors dog was frustrated for being treated wrong and turned and not only attacked your child you would be perfectly ok with that same dog being round other kids?? if you would not allow kids near a dog like that to keep them same why would you want other people to be around an animal that is 12000 lbs. i love animals but I have to agree with allot of people here he should be put down. if you release him to the wild something like this could happen allot more. There has never been an attack on record of any orca world wide attacking a human ever in the wild. Orca’s learn from each other and all it take is the behavior of one to attack to teach a pod to do the same and there would be a possibility that more lives could be in danger. so in recap i believe that the life of one animal to prevent the lives of many sad as it may be is nessicery

          • There is a huge difference between a neighbourhood dog and a whale in a small enclosure, so your argument makes little sense.

            There is no evidence to support your notion that if released he would then teach other Orcas to attack humans.

            Calm down, Mr.E…

          • Rose Lucas

            The Orca is extremely intelligent, so yes, they can teach this. Once again, lots of posters that do not have any animal training.

            I do not disagree with the way they were handled, I totally agree, but once learned, and rewarded, yes, there was no consequences other than isolation, which he has already learned but lots of jerking off to get his sperm, still getting food, so yes, rewarded, this animal had no consequences for its actions.

            Go swimming with Tilli people, but let me film so I can prove the animal training theory…be it in a large netted area in the ocean or even back in the ocean itself…and he will come at you. He has learned well.

          • Rose Lucas

            Well said.

          • Melissa Norman

            People do not have to be in contact with this animal they choose to do so, I think I a was able to translate your post correctly, that you are asking me if I let my children around a dog that is not my pet but a neighbors pet that I know is mistreated and it attacks one of my children one day would I be perfectly okay with that dog being around other children in the future?

            This question is nonsense, and unintelligent. Of course I wouldn’t be okay with other children around a dog that has emotional scarring. The dog needs special care and rehabilitation. Someone who is willing to do so. I know that for the most part there are to few people in this world to combat all the irresponsible ones and unfortunately many animals have to be put down due to human ignorance and greed.

            First, if there was a dog in my neighborhood that I knew was being abused or neglected I would report the owner ASAP to the ASPCA or local animal control. I would do whatever I could to get that animal out of that situation. Then I would offer my time and help locate the dog a home that was appropriate for it. Just because a dog bites someone does not mean it should be put down, if my own child was bitten because I was being a horrible parent and not monitoring my child’s outside play or I allowed my child to get to close to a dog that was a possible concern then I should be brought on child endangerment charges. It is my responsibility to protect my children as it is any other parents responsibility.
            So in recap the word is spelled Necessary, and (i) should be capitalized to (I), as should the first letter of the first word of a new sentence.

          • Rose Lucas

            Have you ever raised or bred or trained animal dear? I have…so you are entitled to your opinion, and I agree that he should have never been taken from his life, his world. We can find common ground here.

            That can be said of our American Indians, and other nations that have been push aside, belittled and killed for their land…no argument there I can assume.

            Yet now this orca is not fit for its use (granted degrading but shows are what it was captured for), other than breeding, and its stress and temperament will transfer unto its progany. This is not opinion, but sceintifc, proven methods for breeding.

            If you own a dog, or even a cat, do you want the wild version that will snap and bite at you the minute you have food, or even sees you as food, or do you want a placid, smart, loving animal by your side?

            That was done with selective breeding, seeking temperament that is conducive for what our needs were: a four legged companion. by the way, pets are “OWNED”, aren’t they?

            Again, no argument about whales being taken from the seas. Could not agree with you more on this.

            Seaworld was wrong, but now we are here now, with an animal that could very well be the only way we can get the population up after FUKUSHIMA poisoning the pacific ocean, and this will travel to the other oceans.

            Now is this the animal that should be used to do this?
            Hell no, again, he needs to be put down.

            Sorry it offends you, but let me ask you something:When is the last time you killed an animal for your food, or to save your own life from an attack?

            Could you do it? Have you don’t it?
            I have, hard decision, but must be made.

          • Melissa Norman

            I actually have not bred animals, trained yes. I have respect for other species, so I do my best to learn about any species I will come into contact with. If I were to be hurt or I got someone else hurt due to my own ignorance then that would be my fault completely. Those deaths caused by the owners are terribly sad and I feel for the families, yet each of those deaths were the fault of the “owner” of the animal. They showed a complete lack of respect to their employee’s by neglecting to tell and lying about the animals history.

            Your question asking me if I owned a dog or a cat, would I want the wild version next to me is a senseless question that does not have any merit. If I had a pet obviously I would not want a animal that would not hurt me, however anytime I take an animal into my home there is a potential for that animal to attack me. I accept what that animal is prior to making that decision and I make a commitment to myself to accept responsibility for my choices. More people should learn to do this.

            Your American Indian point is another invalid way for you to fill some space while trying to sound like you have a clue.

            And in the previous comments you commented on someone using grammatical errors, yet : “Have you ever raised or bred or trained animal dear?” This is your sentence…and it is a mess. Correction: Have you ever raised, bred or trained animals dear?

          • Snarky

            Grammar Nazi behavior aside, since none of here are professional writers, the Sea World mess is what it is. How the hell do you rehabilitate a 3 ton whale? You argumentative nitpicking and insulting tonality of your written voice doesn’t make you look like a honorable, caring animal activist, but rather like a bully who only wants her opinion despite the blaring facts the whale killed three people. “Oh he just needs love” Take a swim with the whale and talk to you afterward. Oh, wait, right , guess you won’t be talking.

            Did I spell every thing right for you, Teacher?

          • Rose Lucas

            LOL, insult away, but its not the way to create a opposing discussion, perhaps you are having an off day. Your attempt to be persuasive failed: PUT HIM DOWN.

          • Raven

            You;re an idiot.

          • Rose Lucas

            Name calling with grammatical errors, nice.

          • Shaun

            Typical keyboard expert with an ignorant opinion. Save it for your diary you twat.

        • Rose Lucas

          It was not one, but three.

        • Patience Willis

          Actually.. Like people.. We get our genes from our parents, grandparents etc etc.. Animals are the same way.. Even though if his children or grandchildren might be raised differently and more peaceful.. They have the potential to be dangerous.. As with pit bulls… You wouldn’t breed a peaceful pit by their own nature to have puppies meant for fighting.. It wouldn’t be in their blood.. They would get killed before they knew what happened. I have bred and seen many pit bulls and honestly.. Once, now I regret, bred my love-able female with a nasty mean pit.. He was very aggressive and attacked humans, he was bred this way and his parents/grandparents were killers.. Which reminds me of Tilikum..I’ve loved Orcas since I was four years old.. I am twenty-four now and have studied on my own accord of these beautiful creatures, one day I’ll be a Orca Biologist, which is my dream.. Coming back to my point.. My female pit bull had three puppies from this monster of a pit.. The puppies were of the same nature as the male.. Even though they hadn’t the experience with fighting or hurting people.. They were very aggressive and more then a couple of times the puppies would attack their own mother.. I believe Tilikum will pass along his nature.. Not to mention, the orcas are all at the same place.. The other orcas see this as well.. Sooner or later.. They will believe it is all right to kill and hurt people, for the simple fact that it is allowed and no punishment or death is ordered for Tilikum.. Honestly, his seamen shouldn’t be the excuse to keeping this creature alive when.. He has already had the taste of human blood.. He will seek it out and I’m sure there will be another killing from him.. Pit bulls and Orcas are of the same nature.. Some kill and some are gentle.. It is in their GENES.. He needs to be put down.. If you ask me, this matter has gotten too out of control.. SeaWorld is wonderful, but not for Orcas… They are too big and intelligent for this sort of torment. Dolphins are smaller and can adapt in a tank of that size. They are content with fish.. But.. Not orcas.. Sadly, because of people.. This has caused the deaths of many people.. In the wild.. Orcas don’t see humans as prey.. For the simple fact that.. They eat fish, seals, dolphins, other whales, etc.. We are not on the menu.. But, for captive Orcas.. Fish is all they eat.. Tilikum is mentally unstable, just like people who have disorders.. Who knows, maybe this orca does too.. It’s hereditary.. I believe he can pass this along his young UNLESS the mother’s nature can dominate this.. Which is highly unlikely, being the males usually carry the characteristics of their own bloodline and their nature as well.. His parents might not have had this nature or disorder, but.. You know what.. Mental and physical disorders come from somewhere.. Maybe from the young when they get older.. Then they pass this down to their young.. Believe me when I say.. This orca is different then the others.. For some reason.. He wants to kill humans, not EAT them, but kill them…

        • Kayleigh

          I agree Chris,
          While it’s possible Tilikum’s parents were aggressive (which is unlikely because wild orcas don’t tend to be aggressive), captivity is what causes this aggression. I could go on and on about this…

      • WrongWrongWrong

        Um, hello? Perhaps he wouldn’t have been aggressive if he hadn’t been spending his life in a teeny, tiny tank performing for tens of thousands of people each year. That is not how a killer whale is supposed to live. He belongs in the ocean, NOT in a SeaWorld pool.

        • Rose Lucas

          He does not belong breeding, which is what he will do if released. An ocean full of this animal? What is the worry anyway, Fukoshima will destroy the ocean soon enough. Yeah that is the answer.

          • SB

            HE was KIDNAPPED from his family at 2 and forced into a tiny tank. He has been tourmented by HUMANS and deserves to be set free, or at least brought to a sanctuary where he can spend the rest of his life. Could you imagine being kidnapped and kept in a closet? Seaworld is a sick institution.

          • Rose Lucas

            Beautiful sentiment, of family. Now, can you imagine Dawn being your daughter? Or Keltie Byrne? Or your son, Daniel P. Dukes? They were all taken from their family…

            I am in total agreement about their treatment, you have an ally in me, but like the classic argument for killer pit bulls, we can now include this in whales. His isolation , the boredom, the bad training of not reconginzing the matriacial dominance that further more caused his abuse from the female whales. You could look at the first kill of a part time college student he tossed about like some toy as some sort of “finale acceptance” from the other whales, thus ingraining a pattern of behavior that made him insane. Now lets add the years he has to hang out in the back tank…is now the prize bull of breeding? The film “The Whale”, produced by the actor of “Van Wilder” fame Ryan Reynolds is a reflection of how intelligent and peaceable these creatures are…but not this one..and DEFINITELY not for breeding..like a dog that kills, he needs to go.

          • laura

            Honestly, do you really think this animal was “born bad?” And how many people do you think this poor beast will
            encounter swimming around in the sea? He’s not a pit bull who can actually walk on land. He is constrained by his environment; he cannot exist in the shallows, but needs the deep sea. He should be removed from human society–and returned to his world where he can live out his the remainder of his lifespan, which sadly would be very short because there would be no one standing around with a bucket of fish to feed him. There is no justice to this story, but at least if returned to the sea, he could die in freedom and give us a little sense of dignity.

          • Kayleigh

            One thing I think you all need to realize is that Tilikum wasn’t captured by Sea World, after his first murder incident, Sea Land in Canada closed and Sea World bought him. No one should be blaming Dawn for this murder, nor Tilikum. It’s Sea Land and Sea World’s fault. Without Sea Land, Tilikum wouldn’t be at Sea World. Captivity is miserable for everyone, imagine having to stay inside your house your whole life. Plus, the animals don’t have good health in Sea World and get rakes (scrapes on their skin) from the other whales out of aggression if they aren’t getting food because each other aren’t performing the tricks correctly. And if Tilikum or any of the other whales held in captivity were released, they wouldn’t be able to survive. There’s no way that they should be put down, once all of the whales die, Sea World should just stop buying new ones and instead close down for good and just build new rides and turn it more into a thrill ride park. Although Sea World is making attempts to create a more realistic environment (The Blue World Project), it still will never allow the WHALES to actually feel like they are free in the wild. Their current habitat at Sea World is like a bath tub to us. And the new one will be like a bathroom. They are meant to be swimming, majestic and free creatures, not flipping in a tiny pool. I don’t think that Sea World will ever be able to appeal again after BlackFish, the truth has come out. The only reason why Sea World is making all of these campaigns and projects is so that they appeal to more people who have watched BlackFish. I honestly don’t know who to believe any more. But what I do know is captivity is not right, and through all of the efforts Sea World tries to go through showing how the whales are free, they will never work. I think Sea World should just own up to their actions and give up their whales to a place where they are free and still be able to be watched over by real caregivers where they won’t be forced to flip and splash and instead be free.

          • Faith

            He needs to go? Really….that is such a disposable attitude.

            Ingrained by our society. He needs to go back to his pod but that will never happen so the next best thing would be a netted section of ocean unless a researcher believes that he could live in the wild after thirty years. Orca’s do not attack humans in the wild. We need to send a loud and clear message to all marine parks that it is wrong and cruel and does no one any good to keep Whales and other intelligent life in captivity. Seaworld has duped much of the public into believing what they do is better than a life at sea. when really what they care about is profit bottom line.

      • E

        This animal is not meant to be in captivity. Wouldn’t you go a little crazy if you were forced to live in a bathtub for 25 years?

      • kayleigh

        Once again, it was Sea World and Sea Land’s fault that Tilikum killed. Not his. He should NOT be put down

  • Isaias

    … ever know, but in my mind, if Tilikum wanted to do more damage, he would’ve done so. Sorry to Dawn’s family, but you guys should consider yourselves lucky by getting her out of the pool in one piece. RIP DAWN.

    • Mendi Mayhem

      She wasn’t in one piece. She was scalped and the whale ate her left arm. I’m not sure why this article left that out!

      • Rob Knaggs

        It didn’t. It’s stated in the last sentence, that discusses the autopsy report.

      • Raven

        He’s a two ton animal of course this was not pretty.

    • WrongWrongWrong

      Better read that autopsy report again…he did A LOT of damage. Because he doesn’t belong in a tank, he belongs in the ocean.

      • Rose Lucas

        He needs put down.

        • bellajo

          im in disgust reading your posts.

          • Rose Lucas

            LOL, then look away…

          • Lissette

            Rose, you’re an idiot. Seems to me, you are the one that needs to be put down.

        • Kayleigh

          Rose, Tilikum didn’t do anything… SeaWorld should be put down cause he wouldn’t be this way without captivity. Instead, he should be released into a big pen in the ocean. This way, he’ll be able to be in the ocean but still have supervision because there’s no way he’ll be able to survive alone in the wild.

    • Rose Lucas

      How much damage would have the whale should have shown? Did you watch Black Fish? Did you know he made a meal of the girl’s arm? HE swallowed it! The only reason why they got her off him was because the led him into a tank to raise him up out of the water so they could pull her off him. That’s when he swallowed the arm. So what else would you need to determine his “intentions”? LOL…His offspring made a meal out of a trainer in the canary islands…this is a dangerous animal.

      • Raven

        Again, you think like an alarmist with no understanding of animals….at all.

      • Kayleigh

        The facts in BlackFish and that Sea World claim are both questionable and some not true and answered, but the answers haven’t been released to the public. Don’t rely on all of the facts from that movie.

    • Evelynn

      “in one piece”
      She had no arm and her scalp was ripped open.

      You sir are dumb.

  • Isaias

    The first death I’m not too familiar with so I can’t elaborate on that. The 2nd was a man that clearly broke the rules and manage to evade security and got access to the pool overnight, does anyone know how he died? Hypothermia and when they found him people say his body was on top of Tilikum(If he wanted to eat him or do some damage he had plenty of chance to do it plus being on TOP of the whale makes me want to think, What if Tilikum was trying to save him?) And Dawn died doing what she loved, once again, the size and strenght of this creature is amazing and even if he was trying to play with Dawn is gonna do some serious damage. Some say she was pulled all the way to the bottom of the pool others say he went all violent, no one will

    • Mendi Mayhem

      Tilikum actually ate the second victim’s genitals.

      • Evelynn

        Well they were bitten off we don’t know if they were eaten

        • Rose Lucas

          LOL…they were not found floating in the bottom of the pool!

          • Melissa Norman

            If they were “floating” they wouldn’t be found in the bottom of the pool anyway you moron.

    • Rae Sarcasma

      Really? She died doing what she loved? Gasping and pulling water into her lungs, having her hair ripped from her head along with 7 layers of skin? Having her arm ripped off at the shoulder and her spine severed? I can’t imagine her last thoughts being, ” Well, at least I will die doing what I Love”!

      • Rose Lucas

        LOL good answer!

      • Bella

        I think what they meant was training and working with orcas, certainly not getting attacked. I think you are being a little technical with this because she didn’t have a bad experience with the whales and she loved her job. She died at her job, and she loved her job. She died when she was doing her job, Wise Acher

    • Melissa Norman

      Okay, if you are going to comment on an issue you really should know all the facts, ignorance is bliss they say. I do not agree with everyone who says that the whale needs to be put down however, the naked man in his tank was not “being saved” he had his genitals bitten off and he was battered. Tilikum was pissed that this hippy dippy retard got in his tank and was aggravating him…Its not the whales fault he is so much bigger than the person harrassing him..from the trainer reports his clothes had been ripped from him also according to blackfish. So I think Tili was trying to make a point. As for Dawn, well she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sorry but thats a risk that comes with the job, all the trainers can blame Sea world for not telling them about the violence of these animals but do a little research into your industry and your animals. Learn about the animals you are trying to control. Not just what some corporate greed monster is telling you. Sea World Sucks,

    • Kayleigh

      No one is quite sure about the second death, or at least the general public isn’t. There are secrets hidden in that story. Some believe Tilikum attacked him or he died of Hypothermia. You are correct, Tilikum may have been attempting to save him. You are right no one will know but who ever tries to blame Dawn for this is a complete idiot and has no soul. She died, she can’t even defend herself……….

  • Todd

    With profits being the driving force behind SeaWorld’s motivation, a few injuries or even fatalities, will not be sufficient to halt their current program permanently.

    While I am sympathetic to the family of Dawn Brancheau, I am glad that the autopsy report findings were published. It is far too easy to overlook hear-say and vague reports, but impossible to ignore medical proof.

    I believe that there are 2 major obstacles society as a whole faces when moving forward from a tragedy such as this. One is the reluctance on the part of the business to seriously consider keeping all trainers out of the water permanently, and the other is, the reluctance, on the part of the trainers to do the same, because of pride in their self perceived expertise, their passion for this type of occupation, and their susceptibility to delusional thinking when evaluating their relationships to these mammals.

    Domesticating whales is not like history’s domestication of dogs or cats. The primary difference is that man is limited in his ability to function in a water environment, and thereby limited in his ability to defend himself.

    I firmly believe that the more the public knows about this incident, including video footage, the faster SeaWorld will be pressured to stop placing lives at incalculable risk for mere entertainment. It is becoming a matter of greed vs common sense.

    • Rose Lucas


    • Melissa Norman

      Well said.

  • Sheri

    If people would STOP going to the shows, they would STOP breeding the whales!

  • Syched1

    I remember the BC death…and that the Seaworld-type parks there decided it was not a good idea to have Orcas in their parks for shows etc. I never knew what happened to the Orcas they had there…until now. I guess after three deaths, perhaps it will be apparent that this creature is not some real-life version of some animated, talking, smiley whale from a kid’s cartoon. While intelligent and beautiful, they aren’t domestic house pets. Tilikum is a huge, meat-eating marine mammal. “Trained” or not, it is not unbelievable that instinct take over and someone dies. I think he should not be part of any show ever again.

  • Rhoda Kerr

    love to Dawn/s family. Saw her there in 2009. Remember her from a distance entertaining in her athletic yet graceful
    appearance. I remember the ponytail and my grandkids and i would like so much to have a
    poster of Dawn. A picture of her in any
    pose. At home, sea world, just a close up that we can place in our home with our ocean
    scenes. Thank you for info on how to obtain a poster life size or close up
    does not have to be with whales or at sea world but if it is that is great too.
    Thanks for a wonderful show to Dawn and all
    of the trainers and to the animals.

  • Brandy

    knowing the extent of Dawn’s injuries, it is clear that the whale was not “playing”. Orcas are intelligent and know when they are doing bodily harm to another living creature. This is not the first time this whale has been involved with the death of a human and I’m sure he is fully aware of what it takes to kill the frail human. I would think it would be great if we could just release all these whales back to their real homes in the open ocean (including the ones born in captivity). However, I’m sure that SeaWorld and other theme parks are not ready to let go of their “cash cows” just yet. The only way this is going to stop is if the thousands of tourist a year attending these parks, make a stand and simply stop paying huge $$$ to see a whale jump through a hoop. Captivity for some of these animals drives them to the point of becoming suicidal and homicidal. They not only turn on their trainers, but they have turned on each other. I suppose if I was shoved in a phone booth for several years with about a dozen other people, I would get hostile from time to time also.

    • Melissa Norman


  • You can tell by that picture and video that Dawn was great at what she did and passionate about it. I do wish that they had all taken his past behaviors more seriously. Her death could have been avoided– And should have been. I don’t think he should have been at SeaWorld. The 911 recording says no trainers were allowed in the water with him. Orcas have a very high intelligence and adapt well, I’ve never heard of anyone abusing orcas as I have about elephants, tigers etc. But Tilikum seems to be the sociopath of killer whales. Not that he was acting out of his nature. Just go to youtube and you can see how killer whales treat seals. When I read the report I thought immediately of those videos. He treated her like a seal.

    I can’t really compare elephants with orcas. Orcas are very loyal and family/pod oriented. Every interview and documentary I’ve seen about trainers re-inforces this. They bond tightly with their trainers, a substitute family, and their trainers are just as attached. We rely on the intelligence of sea mammals in military ops. But not all orcas are going to be trainable.

    The money they make on exhibitions is necessary, you can’t house and study their behaviors without some type of income. I doubt seriously if Dawn ever considered what she did as a way to make a profit or exploitation. I think it would break her heart if people didn’t want to come to SeaWorld to see the dolphins and whales. She wanted to share the beauty and intelligence of these magnificent mammals with the world. To build a respectful relationship.

    I just saw Dawn in a commercial for SeaWorld last night. It ran twice–Back to back. My eyes welled up with tears. I couldn’t help it. She looked so happy.

    Elizabeth, I’m sorry to disagree, but I do think it’s a tragedy. She did so much to forge the relationship between humans and sea mammals. It’s an incredible loss for both sides.

    • Melissa Norman

      But why do humans feel the need to have forced relationships with other mammals against the other mammals will. If you want to study these animals then do so in the wild, what you cant see you just don’t get.

  • elizabeth henry


  • elizabeth henry

    my heart goes out to dawns family and thenk you for dawn for making my daughter want to be at 7 and 5 years old to want to be like her and be and work where she loved her life.

  • a

    its not that the whales perform tricks. most of the behaviors have some build on something the whale does naturally which is then set to a cue and reinforced (to increase the chance of it occuring with the cue)negative reinforment or “force” can not be used on an animal this size. it is a terrible accident and maybe sea world needs to consider just how important it is to put trainers in the water at all (this is entertainment value) This is not the first attack and i am sure swim test to get the job are so extreme becasue they anticipate these types of issues. working free contact with an animal that size you are going to have these problems. i only hope that when he grabbed her, her death came as quickly as possible and that she didnt suffer the extent of those injuries…horrible tragedy

  • John Wilson

    Perhaps, someday in the distant future, humans will advance enough to not require animals to perform entertainment tricks for them.

  • jmerch

    This article did fail to report that the 27 yr old man had climbed the fence after hours @Seaworld & gotten into the tank. Also, the 1st incident in Canadaalso was a worker that fell into the tank. Tilicum was not meant to have anyone in the water w/ him & trainers didn’t perform w/ him @ SeaWorld…

  • Because orcas and elephants are extremely intelligent animals. Compared to life in the wild, they’re on easy street and they know it. They won’t bite the hand that feeds.

    They’ll mostly only get aggressive if they feel threatened or think they can get away with it.

  • Greg Barbrick

    I agree with Bicho. This incident reminds me of others involving elephants. These animals do not belong in such ridiculously artificial environments, trained to perform.

    To me, the real question is, why haven’t more of these attacks occurred?

    • Rose Lucas

      They have, but have been quietly documented as “accidents”.

  • I understand studying the animals and caring for them. Aside from the making money part, I don’t get training them to entertain us.