This isn't the first time Tilikum has killed someone.
According to an article from the AP, the whale's name is Tilikum, and he has a "violent history." In fact, the whale was "typically kept isolated from SeaWorld's other killer whales." Additionally, trainers were not permitted to get in the tank with Tilikum.
A blog from KIRO explains that Tilikum has killed before. "In 1991, a trainer at Sealand slipped into a pool with the 5-ton Orca named Tillikum (sic) and two other whales. She was batted around by the whales until she drowned."
In 1999, Tilikum, the largest Orca in captivity, was involved in another death. A 27-year-old man hid in the SeaWorld park, and, "after it closed, tried to go swimming with the whales." Clearly an ill-advised move, and one that cost the man his life.
And the trainer:
Dawn Brancheau, the late trainer, was a 40-year-old veteran who had worked at SeaWorld for some time. A popular article from Yahoo! explains that working at SeaWorld was her dream job, and one that she had strived for since she was a little girl.
The details of the accident are both scant and disturbing. Apparently the whale grabbed Ms. Brancheau by her ponytail and dragged her into the tank. By the time help arrived, the trainer had drowned.
Celebrity zookeeper and animal lover Jack Hanna knew Ms. Brancheau personally. Hanna believes that the late Brancheau wouldn't want anything to happen to the whale.
Does this KILLER whale deserve to live after killing numerous people?