Hosts Banks Lee and JeniLynn Knopp bring you this week’s theme park and attraction news. On this week’s episode: [Read more…]
My family and I spent the evening at SeaWorld on Sunday. I needed some photos of the “Believe” show for an article in our upcoming Spring issue. Here’s a look at what caught my eye as we enjoyed the park. [Read more…]
SeaWorld will debut a brand new killer whale show in about three months. “One Ocean” will feature many “Shamu’s” performing together with a newly designed backdrop of bright colors and fountains. [Read more…]
After a couple of days of canceled shows because of the tragedy with SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld’s Believe shows returned this morning with the trainers not performing in the water.
Shamu Stadium was about half full on this cold and rainy morning. Many of those in the audience were friends and co-workers of Dawns. Many tears and hugs could be seen before and after the show.
Just before Believe began, a slideshow tribute to Dawn played on the large screens. It was short but very moving, showing Dawn with a smile on her face as she was interacting with the killer whales.
A loud cheer was given to the trainers as they first entered the stage. Then the show began as usual. It was essentially the same Believe show as always, minus the tricks performed with the trainers and whales in the water together. A few new funny parts were added to the show, such as the whales spitting water and “demanding” larger fish from the trainers.
The trainers only entered the water once, to swim to the other side, as they always do in Believe, but the whales weren’t in the tank at that time. When feeding the whales after each trick, the trainers were careful to stand back and toss the fish into their mouths. There was no petting the whales.
Merchandise was on sale as usual with team members walking the isles before the show selling Shamu toys and towels. The signature Believe wooden fin necklaces were readily available after the show as well.
I talked with Head of Animal Training Chuck Tompkins after the show. He said the show would continue to be tweaked and evolve, with the trainers eventually being able to get back in the water with the whales. (Notice the ribbon Tompkins is wearing in support of Dawn.)
Here’s a video of the memorial, highlights from this morning’s show and a clip of one of the television networks interviewing Tompkins.
For a comparison, here’s a highlight video of the regular Believe show, recorded in late January.
Following the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando who was pulled under water and drown by SeaWorld’s largest killer whale, Tilikum, the park suspended the Believe shows and Dine With Shamu experience at all of their parks. But today they announced the shows will go on.
Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment held a press conference today to announce the Believe killer whale show will resume tomorrow, but without any of the trainers entering the water. As you can see in the video below of a Believe show from one month ago, the show will be very different without those human-animal interactions. Atchison also said the Dine With Shamu experience would also likely resume early next week.
“Regarding our preliminary findings in the investigation of Wednesday’s incident,” Atchison said, “we have initiated a thorough review of all of the procedures that guide our interactions with killer whales, and we have invited several colleagues from other marine mammal facilities to be part of that review.
“We will only resume in-water interactions with our killer whales after that review is complete and we have implemented any changes in procedure we feel will assure the safety of our training staff.”
He also stated that Tilikum will not be subject to any sort of punishment. “… we provide the highest standard of care, and no animal is ever subjected to punishment in any form. Tilikum is no exception. … He will remain an active member of our team.”
SeaWorld is in the process of creating, with Dawn’s family, the Dawn Brancheau Memorial Fund – a trust that will support children’s charities. Those who would like to contribute can send donations to:
Dawn Brancheau Memorial Fund
c/o U.S. Bank
P.O. Box 809231
Chicago, IL 60680-9231
Here are highlights from the Jan. 23, 2010 Believe show.
An interview with Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld’s head of animal training, with some clips of Dawn at work. The first Believe show at SeaWorld tomorrow (11 a.m.) will also include a video tribute to Dawn.