Killer Whale Linked to Two Previous Human Deaths

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Brancheau with Tilikum. Photo: AP Photo/Julie Fletcher, Orlando Sentinel

The killer whale who took the life of a SeaWorld trainer is something of a serial killer ... whale, as it appears the marine mammal, named Tilikum, has a “violent history.” The largest killer whale in captivity (weighing in at five tons), Tilikum was responsible for the drowning of a biology student in 1991 and the 1999 death of a gatecrasher, who was found naked and dead on the whale’s back. Experts said these deaths were not attacks, but “misguided attempts by the otherwise docile whale to play.”

SeaWorld suspended all orca shows after the whale drowned 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau today in front of onlookers. Tilikum — who is not one of the whales that trainers get into the water with — came up out of the water and grabbed Brancheau by the waist, according to a witness.

Killer whale kills trainer at Orlando's Sea World; whale Tilikum linked to two other human deaths [NYDN]