SeaWorld Sending Trainers Back Into Killer Whale Waters

Parks plans to resume water training a year after trainer's death

By Brian Hamacher
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 11:35 AM EDT
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A trainer was killed by a killer whale during a show with Shamu on Wednesday.

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SeaWorld officials said it's ready to put trainers back in the water to work with killer whales for the first time since a trainer at the Orlando park was killed by one of the whales one year ago.

Trainers at the company's three U.S. marine parks will begin limited water work with the killer whales in the next few months, SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said Wednesday.

The trainers will start out in small medical pools at first, Bides said.

Trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed last February after she was dragged underwater and drowned by Tilikum, a 12,000-pound killer whale.

The six-ton orca was pulled from all shows and SeaWorld was later fined $75,000 for safety violations that led to Brancheau's death.

SeaWorld said it also plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on safety upgrades at its Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio parks.

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