SeaWorld trainer killed: PETA says "It will happen again"

7:17 AM, Feb 26, 2010   |    comments
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NEW YORK -- Debbie Leahy, PETA's Director of Captive Animals, says the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau didn't have to happen, and if SeaWorld keeps holding their killer whales captive "it will happen again."

"It was only a matter of time that something like this would happen," Leahy told CBS News' Crimesider in a Thursday interview. "It was a very angry, very frustrated orca who snapped and decided to take it out on a person."

PHOTOS: Killer whale immediately after SeaWorld trainer attack

On Wednesday, long-time SeaWorld trainer Brancheau was pulled into the tank by Tilikum the killer whale from a poolside platform.

Despite workers rushing to help, the 40-year-old trainer died from "multiple traumatic injuries" and drowning, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has often flirted with controversy in pursuing its mission for animal rights. The organization has long been calling on SeaWorld to stop confining killer whales and other ocean-going mammals and forcing them to repeatedly perform "silly tricks" for food, according to a statement.

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"It's not surprising when these huge, smart animals lash out," Leahy told Crimesider. "This is not the first incident in which a trainer has been harmed by an animal who has been deprived of any semblance of life."

Because of his size and the previous deaths, SeaWorld trainers are not supposed to get into the water with Tilikum, and Brancheau was only one of about a dozen of the park's 29 trainers who worked with him, according to The Associated Press.  

How can both animals and humans stay safe in the future? One solution suggested by PETA is replacing the park's animals with giant robots.

"It would be a win-win situation that could have saved a woman's life," according to PETA.

Calls from Crimesider to SeaWorld were not returned by press time. 

CBS News' Crimeside

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