Shocking footage shows SeaWorld trainer’s final moments before orca pulled her into its jaws and killed her

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Dawn Brancheau loved working with animals but tragically had her life cut short

Footage caught by a tourist visiting SeaWorld shows the final moments of a trainer who was killed after being dragged underwater by an Orca.

Dawn Brancheau was a 40-year-old senior trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, and worked regularly with the animals, including one killer whale named Tilikum.

See the harrowing footage of her final moments below:

Tilikum had been captured when he was just two-years-old, and appeared at Sealand of the Pacific in Vancouver, BC, before he was moved to Florida.

The whale was one of the biggest Orcas living at SeaWorld, where Brancheau began to work after studying psychology and animal behaviours at college and volunteering at an animal shelter.

On 24 February, 2010, guests at SeaWorld went to watch a ‘Dine with Shamu’ experience, during which Brancheau got close to Tilikum’s tank.

The trainer wasn’t in the pool with Tilikum, but lay close to the edge with her face near the water.

As she got close, the huge whale grabbed Brancheau in his mouth and dragged her into the pool.

Tilikum dragged Brancheau from the edge of the pool. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Tilikum dragged Brancheau from the edge of the pool. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld parks’ head of animal training, told Reuters at the time: “She was rubbing the killer whale’s head, and [it] grabbed her and pulled her in.”

The whale refused to let go of Branchaeu, and the trainer tragically drowned as she was held under the water. During the attack, Tilikum ripped off one of Brancheau’s arms, severed her spinal cord and broke a number of her ribs.

A witness told local news the whale ‘took off really fast’ as Branchaeu got close to the pool.

“Then he came back around to the glass, jumped up, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started shaking her violently. The last thing we saw was her shoe floating.”

Witnesses described the harrowing scene after Brancheau's death. (60 Minutes)

Witnesses described the harrowing scene after Brancheau’s death. (60 Minutes)

Even when other members of staff managed to trap the whale, he still held on to Brancheau’s body until staff were able to prise open his mouth.

John Hargrove, another senior trainer at SeaWorld, said after the incident that we will ‘never know why Tilikum made that choice to grab Dawn and pull her into the pool’.

“He had a great relationship with her and she had a great relationship with him. I do believe that he lived her and I know that she loved him,” he said.

Following Brancheau’s death, Tilikum was relocated to a pool in SeaWorld where he was rarely seen by the public.

The whale was noted to have been responsible for two other attacks against humans during his time in captivity.

He died in 2017.

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