Heartbreaking footage shows final moments of SeaWorld trainer before orca grabbed her in its mouth and killed her

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By Asiya Ali

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Harrowing footage shows a SeaWorld trainer's final moments before being dragged underwater by an Orca.

Dawn Brancheau was a senior trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and worked regularly with the animals, including one killer whale named Tilikum.

See the chilling clip of her final moments below:


During the violent attack, the whale, who had spent more than 30 years in captivity, refused to let go of the trainer, who tragically drowned as she was held under the water.

Brancheau's official cause of death was drowning with blunt force injury. Her arm was ripped from its socket and her hair and scalp were discovered at the bottom of the pool after being ripped off by Tilikum.

In addition to this, her spinal cord was severed and she also suffered from broken ribs and a broken jaw, as shared by The Mirror.

The 40-year-old met her tragic end on February 24, 2010, during a "Dine with Shamu show," when a 12,000-pound killer whale known as Tilikum, or "Tilly," grabbed her and dragged her underwater.

Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld parks' head of animal training, said at the time: "She was rubbing the killer whale's head, and [it] grabbed her and pulled her in," per the BBC.

Credit: Paul Harris / Getty

Heartbreaking footage of Brancheau's final moments before her untimely death was released, and it shows her training with the killer whale - who was responsible for the deaths of two other trainers decades before he attacked Dawn.

According to the Sun, one witness named Susanne De Wit recalled tragedy, explaining that she saw the late trainer caught in the orca's jaws as it approached the viewing window.

De Wit told the Orange County Sheriff's Office: "They told us he was playing with the trainer. Suddenly I saw Shamu grabbing the trainer by the shoulder and pulling her down in the water near the window."

"It did not look normal. It was scary. He was very wild with the trainer still in the whale’s mouth. The whale’s tail was very wild in the water. The tour guide pulled us out and there was a full alarm. We then saw them throw a net into the water," she added.

A report on the incident also referenced De Wit's testimony, noting her observation of Brancheau's frantic movements as the whale shook her violently.

Tilikum was relocated following Brancheau's death. Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty

Following Brancheau's passing, Tilikum was relocated and spent the rest of his days in a pool that was rarely seen by the public.

SeaWorld issued a statement, acknowledging the devastating incident and assuring that safety protocols have been in place since then.

"That tragic situation happened more than 12 years ago. Trainers have not been in the water training with killer whales for many years. We have extensive protocols and training in place to protect the safety of our trainers and animals," the park said.

Featured image credit: Paul Harris / Getty

Heartbreaking footage shows final moments of SeaWorld trainer before orca grabbed her in its mouth and killed her

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

Harrowing footage shows a SeaWorld trainer's final moments before being dragged underwater by an Orca.

Dawn Brancheau was a senior trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and worked regularly with the animals, including one killer whale named Tilikum.

See the chilling clip of her final moments below:


During the violent attack, the whale, who had spent more than 30 years in captivity, refused to let go of the trainer, who tragically drowned as she was held under the water.

Brancheau's official cause of death was drowning with blunt force injury. Her arm was ripped from its socket and her hair and scalp were discovered at the bottom of the pool after being ripped off by Tilikum.

In addition to this, her spinal cord was severed and she also suffered from broken ribs and a broken jaw, as shared by The Mirror.

The 40-year-old met her tragic end on February 24, 2010, during a "Dine with Shamu show," when a 12,000-pound killer whale known as Tilikum, or "Tilly," grabbed her and dragged her underwater.

Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld parks' head of animal training, said at the time: "She was rubbing the killer whale's head, and [it] grabbed her and pulled her in," per the BBC.

Credit: Paul Harris / Getty

Heartbreaking footage of Brancheau's final moments before her untimely death was released, and it shows her training with the killer whale - who was responsible for the deaths of two other trainers decades before he attacked Dawn.

According to the Sun, one witness named Susanne De Wit recalled tragedy, explaining that she saw the late trainer caught in the orca's jaws as it approached the viewing window.

De Wit told the Orange County Sheriff's Office: "They told us he was playing with the trainer. Suddenly I saw Shamu grabbing the trainer by the shoulder and pulling her down in the water near the window."

"It did not look normal. It was scary. He was very wild with the trainer still in the whale’s mouth. The whale’s tail was very wild in the water. The tour guide pulled us out and there was a full alarm. We then saw them throw a net into the water," she added.

A report on the incident also referenced De Wit's testimony, noting her observation of Brancheau's frantic movements as the whale shook her violently.

Tilikum was relocated following Brancheau's death. Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty

Following Brancheau's passing, Tilikum was relocated and spent the rest of his days in a pool that was rarely seen by the public.

SeaWorld issued a statement, acknowledging the devastating incident and assuring that safety protocols have been in place since then.

"That tragic situation happened more than 12 years ago. Trainers have not been in the water training with killer whales for many years. We have extensive protocols and training in place to protect the safety of our trainers and animals," the park said.

Featured image credit: Paul Harris / Getty