published Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Whale that killed trainer returns to SeaWorld show

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    In a March 7, 2011 photo, trainer Joe Sanchez, right, works with killer whale Kayla during the Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld's three theme parks are slowly working to get trainers back in the water with killer whales, one year after a 6-ton orca named Tilikum suddenly dragged a trainer off a platform by her hair and drowned her. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The killer whale that drowned a trainer at Orlando's SeaWorld facility last year is slated to perform for the first time since the death.

SeaWorld officials say Tilikum will participate in the park's "Believe" show beginning Wednesday morning.

Tilikum drowned 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24, 2010, and has not participated in a show since then, while park officials are spending millions making safety upgrades.

Plans to get trainers back in the water with the whales progressed earlier this month despite findings last summer by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that accused SeaWorld of recklessly putting trainers in danger.

SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark says they feel it's an important part of Tilikum's physical, social and mental enrichment to be back in the water.

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