How SeaWorld Orca Keto brutally killed trainer by ripping organs and crushing him before toying with his body.

ORCA trainer Alexis Martinez was already fearing for his safety when he climbed into a pool with 6,600-pound orca Keto.

He had confided in his girlfriend that “something could happen at any time” – and his fears came true on Christmas Eve 2004.

Trainer Alexis Martinez, 29, was killed by a 6,000-pound keto killer whale in 2009


Trainer Alexis Martinez, 29, was killed by a 6,000-pound keto killer whale in 2009
The animal friend's chest was crushed by the orca during a training session


The animal friend’s chest was crushed by the orca during a training session

Martinez was an experienced trainer who had worked with the animals at Loro Parque in Tenerife for three years.

He was described as “handsome, generous and funny” by his partner Estefanía Luis Rodriguez.

And the 29-year-old trainer felt all was not well at the show he worked at, Orca Ocean.

He had told his girlfriend that the killer whales were becoming disobedient, disruptive and aggressive.

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And he was right – just a few weeks later, Alexis was horribly killed by an orca during a training session.

His life came to a horrific end after a brutal attack from keto – which was dismissed as an “unfortunate accident”.

Despite his skill, years of experience, and intuition in dealing with the huge creatures, he was no match for the beast.

The grim autopsy report revealed his organs had been ripped apart and his chest crushed before the orca then “played” with his body in the tank.

Alexis started his career in 2004 when he landed a job at Loro Parque in Tenerife – one of only two parks in Europe to be home to orca.

Two years later, the park loaned four orcas from SeaWorld, who were quickly put into a performance training program.

Accomplished trainer Alexis was instrumental in guiding the marine mammals through rehearsals for an upcoming celebratory show.

He had been caring for a 6,600-pound man named Keto, who was flown in from the US after being born in captivity – he had never experienced life in the open ocean.

During a morning session on Dec. 24, Keto appeared “in good spirits,” according to an incident report from the company.

Alexis joined the orca in the pool while another trainer, Brian Rokeach, positioned himself on the stage while several other staff members pondered.

The 29-year-old is said to have attempted to perform a stand-on spy hop, balancing on the orca’s pedestal as it emerges from the water.


But he fell when Keto leaned to one side before attempting the stunt again – when he fell into the water again.

The coach responded with a reinforcement scenario, according to the report, responding neutrally and withholding the reward.

The 14-year-old orca was then rewarded with two handfuls of fish after obeying orders from another trainer.

A hopeful Alexis then opted to attempt a holddown into the stage – meaning he would ride the orca down into the pool and up onto the stage.

However, Keto was too deep in the 12m pool – forcing his trainer to break off the move in the depths of the water.

After the pair emerged, the orca appeared to “position itself between Alexis and the stage.”

The 29-year-old then waited for the animal to calm down and requested a stage call via underwater sound.

The animal in question moved towards him, hit him and fiercely played with his body.

Rafael SanchezOrca Ocean

His colleague Brian suggested that Keto didn’t “seem committed to staying in control” and looked “a little wide-eyed.”

The fellow trainer then instructed Alexis to slowly swim to another pool while giving the orca a hand aim.

But when Ket realized his mentor was on the way, the three-ton orca made his way toward him—ignoring Brian.

The killer whale then swooped down on Alexis and used its huge beak to force him underwater for a few minutes.

Orca Ocean assistant supervisor Rafael Sanchez said in his statement to investigators, “The animal in question moved towards him, hit him and fiercely played with his body.”

Frantic trainers desperately tried to call Keto to the surface, signaling him by hitting the water and slamming a bucket.

After about 30 seconds had passed, the killer whale finally obeyed and threw Alexis’ lifeless body to the bottom of the pool.


But the ordeal wasn’t over – Keto took a quick breath and returned to inspect his victim before bringing him to the surface with his beak.

Other Loro Parque staff finally managed to direct the giant orca to another tank before recovering the body of its trainer.

The 29-year-old was bleeding from his nose and mouth while his colleagues tried desperately to revive him.

An autopsy report later revealed that Keto hit Alexis with such force that his chest collapsed.

It concluded that although the immediate cause of death was drowning, Alexis’ death was “violent”.

The report describes multiple cuts and bruises, the collapse of both lungs, fractured ribs and breastbone, a torn liver, severely damaged vital organs, and puncture marks that “match the teeth of an orca.”

SeaWorld temporarily shut off water supplies to all of its parks after his death, as did Loro Parque.


But Alexis’ employers initially described the death as an “accident” and insisted his beaten body showed no signs of violence.

They claimed he was “slapped by the orca in an unexpected reaction from the animal,” while Keto “shifted his position.”

Keto had actually caused catastrophic internal bleeding.

In a cruel twist of fate, it was later revealed that Alexis had documented his concerns about the orca in his journal.

He wrote of how Keto had exhibited “controlling” behavior toward the three orcas — Tekoa, a male and female, Kohana, and Skyla — he had arrived with from SeaWorld.

Other investigations later revealed that the killer orca rammed Tekeoa once, causing him to bleed.

On another, Keto had taken a piece of Kohana’s dorsal fin.

Alexis told his girlfriend he was exhausted from the stress of working with the orcas and the pressure of the upcoming Christmas show, journalist Tim Zimmermann reported.

“My job is particularly risky and I need to be really well rested and ready,” Alexis told his girlfriend Estefanía.

“With anything that’s going on, anything can happen at any time.”

Alexis’ family say they felt “lied to” about his death – Estefanía claimed she was initially told he was “fine” when contacted by the park, even though they knew he was already dead.

However, the park has defended its handling of his death, insisting that incorrect information passed “can almost certainly be attributed to the nature of an emergency response”.

Alexis with Dawn Brancheau - who was killed by an orca at SeaWorld just two months later


Alexis with Dawn Brancheau – who was killed by an orca at SeaWorld just two months later

Just two months after his horrific death, dedicated orca trainer Dawn Brancheau was dragged into the water by an orca during a post-show routine.

Dawn and Alexis know each other from their time at Loro Parque.

She leaned over the edge of the pool to pet Tilikum when his behavior suddenly changed and he pulled her into the water by her ponytail.

Harrowing scenes saw Dawn being shaken and thrown around as terrified guests were frantically ushered out by staff.

The 40-year-old was reportedly scalped and her arm bitten off in the attack.

Dawn’s shocking death made headlines around the world and questioned the ethical nature of keeping whales in captivity – with much speculation centered on Tilikum’s treatment and life.

Many experts and former trainers believe Tilikum became a serial killer simply because of his traumatic time in captivity, with the landmark 2013 documentary film Blackfish shedding light on longstanding concerns.

Tilikum died in 2017 after suffering serious health problems, including an ongoing and complicated bacterial lung infection.

His death came just a year after SeaWorld announced they were ending their breeding program after years of campaigners railed against them. How SeaWorld Orca Keto brutally killed trainer by ripping organs and crushing him before toying with his body.


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