By Jennifer O'Connor
Ten-year-old Bobby Connell has spent the last six months plagued by nightmares after witnessing Tilikum the killer whale batter SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau to death right in front of his eyes. Bobby's father, in a suit filed against SeaWorld, said his son "saw the look of horror and desperation on Dawn's face as she was swimming for her life. … He then saw Tilikum violently yank her down again to the depths of the pool."
The family sat in the front row during the show, and Bobby's mother later told reporters, "It affected all of us. I'll start crying while driving. I mean, we saw her face. She made it to the surface and she looked directly at us."
The Connells' lawsuit (and the one that will probably follow from Brancheau's widower) comes on the heels of a damning report issued by OSHA that cited SeaWorld for routinely putting Brancheau at risk of death by allowing her in close proximity to Tilikum, a frustrated animal who had already killed twice.
Please contact the Blackstone Group (which owns SeaWorld) and insist that it close the tanks before another animal or human dies or another child is traumatized for life.