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New Shamu show won't allow SeaWorld trainers in the water with killer whales

February 03, 2011|By Brady MacDonald | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
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SeaWorld trainers won't return to "water work" with killer whales in the new 2011 Shamu show after the death of an animal trainer forced a complete reworking of the marine park's signature attraction, SeaWorld officials said.

"One Ocean" will replace the 5-year-old "Believe" killer-whale show at SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla. (in April), San Diego (on Memorial Day weekend) and San Antonio (in June).

SeaWorld pulled all trainers out of its orca pools after the February 2010, death of Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld Orlando trainer who was killed by a 6-ton orca named Tilikum.

The conservation-themed "One Ocean" show in Shamu Stadium will feature fountains, underwater imagery and orcas performing in unison against a new backdrop of giant LCD screens. Working exclusively from the stage, trainers will no longer perform maneuvers such as the iconic "rocket hops" – in which a whale propels a trainer out of the water.

The separate Dine with Shamu programs, which were suspended after Brancheau's death during one of the dinner shows, are expected to resume in the spring, but trainers will no longer interact with the orcas in the water, officials said.

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