An anti-gay religious group is calling for a killer whale which drowned its trainer to be stoned to death.

According to the American Family Association, the Bible says that captive killer whale Tillikum should have been put to death in 1991 after the first time he killed a trainer.

The whale killed 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau last week in front of crowds at SeaWorld Orlando. He dragged the experienced trainer into the water by her ponytail.

Tillikum, known as Tilly, has been involved in the deaths of two other people in the last 20 years. He and two female orcas killed another female trainer in 1991, while the dead body of a man was found on his back in 1999. The man was thought to have died from hypothermia, although Tilly had bitten him and torn off his shorts.

Bryan Fischer, from the American Family Association, wrote on the organisation’s website: “What about the term ‘killer whale’ do SeaWorld officials not understand?

“If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.”

Mr Fischer cited passages from Exodus, which counsel that if a man’s ox kills someone, it should be stoned to death. The text says that if the ox is not killed and goes on to claim another life, both it and its owner should be stoned to death.

He wrote: “The Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal.”

SeaWorld officials are currently debating what to do with Tilly, who weighs six tonnes. They have rejected calls to release him into the wild, saying this would be a “certain death sentence”.

The American Family Association believes that homosexuality is “repulsive”, “sinful” and “unnatural”. It calls for bans on gay couples marrying and adopting children.

Although it is anti-abortion, it also believes in the death penalty.