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updated: 1/21/2014 6:56 PM

Family: SeaWorld trainer thought whales treated OK

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Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The family of a SeaWorld trainer who died in 2010 when a killer whale pulled her into the water responded Tuesday to a documentary critical of animal captivity at the marine parks, saying the woman killed would never have worked there for 15 years if she thought the whales were treated badly.

Trainer Dawn Brancheau's family members said on the website for The Dawn Brancheau Foundation that they've been repeatedly asked about how they feel about the documentary "Blackfish" since its release last year. They say they continue to support her former co-workers who still train with the marine animals.

Since the documentary, several entertainers have pulled out of planned performances at the parks.

Brancheau was grabbed and drowned by the six-ton killer whale, Tilikum, after a show in February 2010. The documentary examines Tilikum's background and is critical of keeping whales in captivity.

Separately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed Tuesday that they were looking into reports that OSHA inspector Lara Padgett, who helped investigate Brancheau's death, had fraternized with the makers of "Blackfish" at film festivals around the nation.

"OSHA is committed to fair and effective enforcement of safety and health requirements in the workplace," spokesperson Jesse Lawder said in an email. "Allegations involving employee conduct are taken seriously and OSHA is investigating."

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