What to do with a 12,000-pound killer whale that is famous for being the world's most potent captive orca stud and infamous for the deaths of three people?
The fate of Tilikum has been debated since Wednesday, when he attacked Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old SeaWorld Orlando trainer who spent 14 years working with killer whales. As spectators watched, Tilikum grabbed her by her ponytail in knee-deep water, pulled her into his tank and drowned her.
SeaWorld suspended orca shows Thursday in Orlando and San Diego but indicated that Tilikum will resume most of his usual activities. It did not say he would take part in shows, but said Tilikum will remain with the park's other orcas several of which he sired and continue to work with trainers.
A Humane Society expert said a return to "business as usual" is "terribly disappointing"
''It will happen again," said Naomi Rose, a senior marine mammal scientist for the Humane Society who knew Tilikum when he killed a trainer in British Columbia in 1991.
''It's not a question of if. It's a question of when. This is his normal behavior. It's what he does when someone falls in the water."