Tilikum the Killer Whale Passes Away at SeaWorld Orlando
Tilikum’s life was tumultuous. The killer whale was caught in 1983 around age two near Iceland and eventually taken to live at SeaWorld Orlando where he lived in captivity until January 6, 2017 when he passed away. National Geographic notes that Tilikum had been fighting a lung infection for a while, though the exact cause of death hasn’t specifically been stated yet.
The Washington Post writes that SeaWorld called off their breeding program in March 2016 after a documentary called “Blackfish” focused on the treatment of Tilikum who killed a trainer during a performance. The backlash on SeaWorld after the documentary had the company making some changes, and Tilikum is the first to die after the breeding program has been halted.
Animal rights advocates say that Tilikum’s life was completely unnatural and lead to boredom, confinement, illness and aggression. Others say that the killer whale managed to educate and uplift park visitors who loved him and his performances.
SeaWorld released a statement on their website, mourning their loss. “While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it’s important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld and inspired millions of people to care about this amazing species,” they wrote.