The unfortunate incident that happened a couple of months ago, saw the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer with 16 years experience, at the hands, or rather, fins, of her charge; Tilikum, the killer whale.
This is not the first offense.
In 1991, Tilikum was "reportedly" involved in the death of a female trainer in Canada; Keltie Lee Byrne.
On Feb. 20, 1991, Keltie Lee Byrne fell into a tank at Sealand in Victoria in front of an audience of about 10 visitors. She tried to get out, but Tillikum was one of three orcas — Tillikum, Nootka and Haida were the others — who prevented her. The whales manhandled her for 10 minutes, dragging her underwater as she screamed. Staff and emergency crews finally retrieved her body with a net two hours after she fell in.
19 years later, the modus operandi has not changed;
SeaWorld employee Lynn Shaber, said the whale, Tilikum, was "a possessive animal" and she had therefore known Ms Brancheau was in trouble when she saw her underwater, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office report.
Apparently, there was another victim:
... Tillikum, whose name means "friend" in the Chinook Indian language, has been involved in since moving to Florida. In 1999, a 27-year-old Florida man apparently jumped into the tank to swim with Tillikum and was later found dead, draped over the whale.
The plot thickens further: July 29, 2004: Orca with bloody family history slams its trainer
A killer whale at SeaWorld here repeatedly slammed its trainer underwater during a show, the whale in question; Ky (short for Kayaquet), did not injure his trainer Steve Aibel. It is worth noting that, Ky, is Tilikum's offspring.
This just goes to show, for all the "wild" pet enthusiasts out there; you can take the lion out of the wild, but you cannot take the wild out of the lion. Or in this case, Killer Whale. Its a clear case of nature vs. nurture.
To recap; Killer Whale involved in deaths of two trainers, in separate, similar incidents (unprovoked) in 1991, and later in 2010. The suspect's "offspring" was involved in an "assault-and-battery" against his trainer.
Now, will science zero-in on some sort of Whale-Murder-Gene? Will Tillukum be brought to justice? Will he be put down, like a rabid dog that turns on its owners? When will he strike next?
Only time will tell.