SeaWorld Appeals Whale Contact Ban

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- SeaWorld is appealing a federal judge's ruling that animal trainers can't have unprotected contact with killer whales during public performances.

Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment reported Tuesday that it has filed a petition for discretionary review with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission concerning parts of Judge Ken S. Welsch's decision this past spring.

The ruling will become final on July 16 if commissioners do not grant a review. The decision followed the February 2010 death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau. She was grabbed and drowned by the six-ton killer whale Tilikum.

Following a six-month investigation, OSHA cited SeaWorld with three safety violations and recommended trainers never again be allowed near the whales without a barrier for protection.

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