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Serial killer whale allowed to live

the killer whale that drowned its trainer at the SeaWorld theme park in Florida will not be freed or destroyed, the attraction's owners said.

However, the Orlando venue has suspended all orca shows while it decides whether to change the way handlers work with the giant mammals.

Also, visitors who were occasionally invited to pet the killer whales would no longer be allowed to do so.

"We're going to make any changes needed to make sure this doesn't happen again," Chuck Tompkins, chief of animal training said.

The decision came a day after the 12,000lb (5,440kg) killer whale named Tilikum dragged trainer Dawn Brancheau (40) into its pool and thrashed her to death as audience members watched in horror.

Radio callers, bloggers and animal activists said Tilikum -- which was involved in the deaths of two other people over the past two decades -- should be released into the ocean or put to death.

Tompkins said that Tilikum would not survive in the wild because it has been captive for so long, and that destroying the animal was not an option either, because it was an important part of the breeding programme at SeaWorld and a companion to the seven other whales there.

hnews@herald.ie


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