Not all of the people on this list were bludgeoned by stray bits of park machinery or swallowed whole by imprisoned animals; some of them just suffered the misfortune of floating in a lazy river during a freak lightning storm or sitting in the fifth row during the Baywatch-themed water show.
From Sea World Orlando to Sea World San Diego, there have sadly been all too many deaths and accidents at SeaWorld parks. Read on to learn more about these tragic SeaWorld deaths, injuries, and incidents and remember that as cute as Sea World animals seem, there is a dark side to these amusement parks.
Killer Whale Beached Herself
In 2016, Morgan, an orca at SeaWorld-owned Loro Parque in the Spain, fully beached herself on the concrete side of her pool. Onlookers said she was fully out the water and motionless for 10 minutes after a show. And some heartless spectators even tried to take selfies with her. The behavior came a few weeks after Morgan was found repeatedly banging her head into a metal grate in her cage. The park claimed that "voluntary stranding is a natural behavior in wild orcas." The footage of the beached whale sparked a #freemorgan hashtag and movement on social media.
Corpse of Homeless Man Found on Whale in Orlando
On July 6, 1999, a 27-year-old drifter was found naked in the pool draped over the back of the killer whale named Tilikum. He had visited SeaWorld the previous day, stayed after the park closed evading security, and entered the Orca tank. The coroner's report found scrapes, bruises and puncture wounds and that his testicles had been torn.
Tilikum Drowns Trainer
On February 24, 2010, Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer with 16 years of SeaWorld experience died in an accident involving Tilikum. SeaWorld's head of animal training said that during a rubdown after the show Tilikum pulled the trainer into the water by her ponytail and she drowned. However, some eye witnesses recalled the event differently and some whale experts have disputed SeaWorld's claim that the whale bit Brancheau's ponytail, noting the detail in the autopsy report that her left arm was torn off.
Orcas Attack Trainer Jonathan Smith
In 1987, two orcas grabbed trainer Jonathan Smith (who had less than one week of experience working with the animals), dragging him across the pool. Though he survived the attack, his kidneys were ruptured, his liver was lacerated, and he had cuts all over his body.