Central Florida is saddened by the death of animal trainer, Dawn Brancheau, after yesterday’s accident at SeaWorld Orlando. Theme parks in this area employ tens of thousands of area residents who go to work every day expecting to come home and do so without harm. Theme parks take their employee’s safety very seriously. They also take their accidents very seriously.
This tragic accident follows last years’ July 5th death of 21 year old Austin Wuennenberg at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom wherein OSHA found serious concerns, and the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the monorail accident. While Disney has supplemented its safety procedures, it is not yet known if SeaWorld will modify any of its procedures or remove the whale, Tilikum, from the park. He is also blamed in the death of two other people in 1991 and 1999. There’s little chance that SeaWorld will put down the killer whale. They will, however, close the ‘Believe’ and ‘Dine With Shamu’ shows at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego, pending the investigation.
Most tourists will not let this tragedy change their mind to visit SeaWorld. There are many other shows to see and animals to experience and learn about. Tourists think little of their safety at theme parks, because the parks go to great lengths to create a safe environment for their guests and employees. No doubt SeaWorld, like Disney, will review all of their operating procedures and make adjustments if necessary.
While thousands of theme park employees will go to work today, many will have Dawn on their mind. We’ll extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the trainer, and perhaps look around our own workplace. If there are any areas we could improve upon, we’ll work to make it a little safer for everyone. After all, theme parks are suppose to be fun…not tragic.