It's been a little more than a year since Tilikum the orcadrowned his trainer
in front of an audience during a show at Orlando's SeaWorld, and now the park is putting him back to work. This morning during the park'sBelieve
show, he made his first performance since the deadly incident. Tilikum had previouslybeen linked to two other deaths
, but trainers now believe he's ready to return to the spotlight.
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"Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum's day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social, and mental enrichment," SeaWorld animal training curator Kelly Flaherty Clark said in a statement.
"He has been regularly interacting with his trainers and the other whales for purposes of training, exercise, and social and mental stimulation, and has enjoyed access to all of the pools in the Shamu Stadium complex."
Forty-year-old senior trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed in February 2010 after Tilikum grabbed her ponytail, pulled her below the surface, and violently shook her. An autopsy showed she died of drowning and traumatic injury to her head, ribs, and back.