ORLANDO, FL – As SeaWorld prepares to reintroduce its “Dancing with Killer Whales” program this weekend, rumors have begun rising, like tiny bubbles of blood to the surface of the water, regarding the mind set of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, who died a public and agonizing death last week.
According to a former co-worker, Ms. Brancheau, 40, “was essentially to blame” for her own demise at the hands of Tilikum, one of SeaWorld’s killer whales.
Thad Lacinak, a former head trainer at SeaWorld, told Florida news station WFTV that Ms. Brancheau should not have been lying down on the platform, which allowed Tilikum to make a grab for her ponytail.
“Lying down is a very vulnerable position to be in with an animal like Tilikum,” said Mr. Lacinak. “Lying down in front of a whale is like asking for it.”
Apparently wearing your hair in a ponytail rather than tied up in a bun isn’t such a hot idea either.
“When her ponytail, which Tilikum probably mistook for a toy, drifted into the water, he opened his mouth, sucked it in and pulled Dawn in with it,” said Mr. Lacinak. “For a trainer of her experience to commit mistakes like that, it was almost like she wanted to die.”
Absent the finding of a suicide note, there is little that investigators can do to determine the cause of Ms. Brancheau’s death. A SeaWorld official who asked not to be identified said that the organization was looking into Tilikum’s Twitter account to see if any of his tweets “shed any light on the subject.”