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Future is unsure for SeaWorld killer whale

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

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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 whale'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 under water by the whale after a performance. Tilikum has also been involved in two other deaths, one of a trainer at a Canadian park and another of a man who snuck past security and was found draped over the whale'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 Office concludes its investigation, the material would 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.

Future is unsure for SeaWorld killer whale 03/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 8:06pm]

    

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