Trainers at SeaWorld’s three parks are taking the first steps toward sharing the water with Orca whales once again, one year after a tragic encounter with a whale resulted in the drowning of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
Since the incident, trainers have stayed out of the water and on raised platforms during Orca performances.
This spring, SeaWorld parks will feature the first new whale show in five years and employees are eager to work closely with the beasts once again. However, there is no timetable for a return to the water and officials aren’t guaranteeing that it will happen at all.
Chuck Tompkins, curator of zoological operations for the SeaWorld stressed that the process would be slow and gradual, saying “We’re going to make sure every whale goes through a very basic program of understanding what to do. It’s going back and learning fundamentals again.”
SeaWorld is also spending tens of millions of dollars on upgraded safety equipment, including rapid-rising pool floors that can lift whales and trainers from the water in seconds, underwater tools to distract the whales, and portable oxygen bottles that trainers can easily carry with them.
Source: Washington Post