msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/27/2004 6:33:40 PM ET 2004-07-27T22:33:40

A performing killer whale attacked a trainer for several minutes Monday at SeaWorld Adventure Park as thousands of stunned park visitors watched.

The victim, Steve Aibel, walked away from the incident uninjured, according to WOAI-TV.

Justin Lecourias, a member of the audience who witnessed the event, said there was clearly something wrong in the lead-up to the attack.

He said the whale kept trying to bat the trainer under the water before apparently trying to take a bite out of him.

Trainers were eventually able to calm the whale, and the show was halted. Officials canceled “The Shamu Adventure,” shows for the rest of the day.

The trainer has said he intends to go back in the pool with the whale when the shows resume.

Veterinarians believe the whale is near breeding age and felt threatened by the trainer, perhaps a result of the effects of adolescent hormones.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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