SeaWorld Resumes Killer Whale Shows
"In memory and appreciation, we would like to dedicate this moment to our friend and colleague Dawn Brancheau," said the announcer.
It was part of a poignant tribute to trainer Dawn Brancheau as SeaWorld in Orlando resumed its killer whale shows. Tears flowed freely at the first show since Brancheau's tragic death, and applause filled the amphitheater as the tribute was announced.
Although there were plenty of spectacular moments, the regular crowd-pleasing stunts with trainers riding on the whale's nose, were not part of the show.
Staff didn't swim with the whales at all over the weekend. The closest they got was wading in ankle-deep water on the shallow ledge of the pool.
They did swim, but only when all the whales had been moved out of the main pool.
Tili, the 12,000-pound killer whale that dragged Brancheau to her death, took no part in the shows. He was kept isolated in a separate tank.
Since Tili pulled Brancheau into the water by her ponytail, female staffers made sure their hair was bound up tightly.
Spectators told INSIDE EDITION they were touched by the tribute to Brancheau.
As the crowds in Orlando mourned Brancheau, a thousand miles away, in her hometown of Chicago, friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
SeaWorld officials are still investigating her death.