Feb 26

Today's Press Conference

by Staff

February 26, 2010

A Message from Jim Atchison
President and Chief Executive Officer, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

Earlier today, we held a press conference at SeaWorld Orlando to discuss several things related to Wednesday's killer whale incident and the death of our trainer, Dawn Brancheau.

We are in the process of creating, with Dawn's family, the Dawn Brancheau Memorial Fund - a trust that will support the children's charities she was so passionate about. We will provide additional details, over the coming weeks, but those who would like to contribute can send donations to:

Dawn Brancheau Memorial Fund
c/o U.S. Bank
P.O. Box 809231
Chicago, IL 60680-9231

To update the status of the killer whale presentations at our SeaWorld parks: As you know, all direct interactions with these animals were suspended immediately after the incident in all three SeaWorld parks. This includes all show and most husbandry interactions, as well as our dining programs. We will resume performances of our killer whale show “Believe” on Saturday, Feb. 27, at SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio, but our trainers will not enter the water. Our dining programs will likely resume next week.

Regarding our preliminary findings in the investigation of Wednesday's incident, we have initiated a thorough review of all of the procedures that guide our interactions with killer whales, and we have invited several colleagues from other marine mammal facilities to be part of that review. The findings of this group and the changes to our interaction procedures that result will be shared in due course. We will only resume in-water interactions with our killer whales after that review is complete and we have implemented any changes in procedure we feel will assure the safety of our training staff.

In light of some of the speculation we've seen in the media coverage over the past two days, it is important that I again stress that we provide the highest standard of care, and no animal is ever subjected to punishment in any form. Tilikum is no exception.

Once again, and on behalf of everyone in our company, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to Dawn's family. This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for all of us at SeaWorld, but the grief we're experiencing cannot compare to that of Dawn's family. Our thoughts and prayers remain with her husband Scott and all of those closest to her.

Jim Atchison

Jim Atchison