Skip to Main Content

Child Watched SeaWorld Trainer Die

Written by PETA | August 26, 2010


Ten-year-old Bobby Connell has spent the last six months plagued by nightmares after witnessing Tilikum the killer whale batter SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau to death right in front of his eyes. Bobby’s father, in a suit filed against SeaWorld, said his son “saw the look of horror and desperation on Dawn’s face as she was swimming for her life. … He then saw Tilikum violently yank her down again to the depths of the pool.”

The family sat in the front row during the show, and Bobby’s mother later told reporters, “It affected all of us. I’ll start crying while driving. I mean, we saw her face. She made it to the surface and she looked directly at us.”

The Connells’ lawsuit (and the one that will probably follow from Brancheau’s widower) comes on the heels of a damning report issued by OSHA that cited SeaWorld for routinely putting Brancheau at risk of death by allowing her in close proximity to Tilikum, a frustrated animal who had already killed twice.

Please contact the Blackstone Group (which owns SeaWorld) and insist that it close the tanks before another animal or human dies or another child is traumatized for life.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • vc says:

    Sea World should not have these shows, and I think that they should be shut down. But… I bet these people aren’t just suing to shut them down…another example of someone thinking they are going to hit the jackpot for being in a certain place in a certain time. THAT makes me sick!!

  • Alex says:

    The Cove showed how the Japanese got dolphins for their sea parks in Japan. SeaWorld did not get their dolphins using the same methods as the Japanese! And yes ignorance is bliss in the case of the orcas because they were all either captive born or were taken out of the wild at a very young age so they know nothing about living in the ocean. All they know is their environment at SeaWorld so they can’t know what they are missing. More importantly these whales do not act miserable and depressed they look healthy and have healthy appetites are playful inquisitive and interact daily with guests and their trainers. SeaWorld has at least 5 orcas that have lived there for 3040+ yrs if they were that depressed i doubt they would’ve lasted that long. Their orcas especially the ones at SWF have also been breeding on their own in capitvity something an intelligent animal wouldn’t do if they felt their environment was a horrible place. And despite what most of you think the whales actually choose to perform. On rare occasions some have chosen not to perform and if that happens they are not forced or punished by their trainers as if its possible to force an orca to do anything anyway I mean give these orcas sum credit they are very intelligent after all and if they were miserable i’m sure it would be very obvious in their actions. These orcas can’t be released into the wild because they were raised by people and it would be inhumane to release them because they would most likely become miserable in an environment that would be strange to them and die. An example of this is what happened to Keiko when he was released none of the wild orcas would except him so he sought out the company of people again. He was probably lonely and miserable and ended up dying. If you wouldn’t release a tiger that was raised by people back into the wild then why would it be ok to release orcas that were raised by people into the wild? The bottom line is the best thing for them is to stay in captivity. Just leave them alone they seem happy enough and they are not stupid if they seem happy most likely they ARE happy

  • Lisa says:

    This is awful. I have puchased bith Discovery Cove and seaworld tickets as well for our upcoming honeymoon. After the past few weeks and after watching “The Cove” I am cancelling these two froms of entertainment. I am actually disgisted with myself that I ever went and enjoyed seaworld in the forst place. I guess ignorance is bliss??

  • shannon ryan says:

    this is so stupid. Thay had no qualms whatsoever going to see this poor animal perform under captivity then are appalled that it did what came naturally to it. If the thing has killed twice before then why in the world was it still in captivity? did they think that is would not do it again? THe family of the girl killed should be compensated not the “poor Fools” that witnessed it. They got what they paid for didn’t they? Just because it wasen’t the show they wanted now they cry and scream.

  • Brittany says:

    It was written brilliantly Rev. Meg Schramm!!! It is stupid of the Connell’s should have removed their child from the area or tried to hide his face if their 10 year old buy is that much afraid of stuff. It was there choice to go watch a large animal trapped in a small tank! Its not Tilikum fault the he was trapped by humans and forced to do tricks to entertain us… If you dont want your child to possibly see someone die dont take them to a place where wild animals are being “trained” to do what we want they are still WILD!

  • Emily says:

    This is horrible SeaWorld deserves to be sued. They need to own up to their mistakes and prevent future injuriesdeaths by closing the tanks already.

  • Christine says:

    If I were that child’s parents I would absolutely sue SeaWorld too! That kid is traumatized for life and it sounds like he’s already going through the symptoms of PTSD. SeaWorld let this happen and could have prevented such a tragedy so they are at fault for this kid’s trauma. I totally support SeaWorld getting sued and I hope this is just the beginning of driving a cruel company out of business.

  • Daineal Parker says:

    As a former SeaWorld employee it isn’t surprising that they didn’t disclose this sooner. SeaWorld has many many dark secrets. I can only hope they pay dearly for this … best of luck to the Connell family.

  • Jimbo Duggins says:

    I’m glad people are finally speaking out against sea world. They deserve to lose a lot of money. They should have the whales taken from them they should be sued by families they duped and the government should fine them. Most importantly people need to stop going!

  • Sunny says:

    Killer whales are dolphins folks. Not whales.

  • Jon says:

    Desperate people they will sue for anything…money talks.

  • Torbjorn Wadle says:

    I think this is such a terrible incident. But seriously let’s learn from these “accidents”. All Zoological Parks should close down. Together with my family I visited “Sea World” in San Diego last summer. Not until then and I have visited many Zoo Parks in both Europe and North America during my 54 years did I realize that this is not the place for us humans to watch Wild Life. It would have been so much better to have seen these wonderful animals in their own enviroment. Paul and Linda McCartney were so right when they wrote the song “Wild Life”.

  • RALPH says:

    hey anything that hurts SeaWorld where they understand their bottom line is fine with all of us who care about animals. Let them pay anyone. And…this mother thought she was going to a lovely show people are naive. The kid shouldn’t suffer because his mother didn’t know and SeaWorld’s ads make it look cool and fine. LOTS of people haven’t a clue. SeaWorld KNOWS.