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Family: SeaWorld Trainer Thought Whales Treated Okay

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(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

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ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — Amid criticism of SeaWorld after the release of a controversial documentary critical of animal captivity, the family of a SeaWorld trainer who died in 2010 when a killer whale pulled her into the water responded Tuesday, 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.”

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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