An infamous killer whale named Tilikum that was exclusive to the many shows at SeaWorld of Orlando, Florida and was well-known for having killed its trainer in 2010, as well as appearing in a documentary entitled ‘Blackfish,’ has reportedly passed away on Friday.
Image Credit: Milan Boers/Flickr
There has been no official cause of death released to the public just yet, but Tilikum had been battling a severe bacterial lung infection for months, which is believed to have been one of the leading reasons why the 36-year-old orca met its maker.
Veterinarians and other animal experts had been tending to the infection over the course of its existence with various types of treatments with no avail.
Tilikum had a bad reputation for dragging orca trainer Dawn Brancheau under water and holding her there to drown during a live performance in front of an audience in 2010. While many probably still remember the tragic day that this happened, it was unpredictable and unheard of.
The Blackfish documentary is said to have argued that keeping orcas in captivity increased their hostility against humans, and that orcas should be freed. While the freedom of all captive orcas continues to be a pain point for SeaWorld and the animal activists who stand up against SeaWorld, orcas continue to be the face of the attraction's brand.
SeaWorld has already announced plans to pull the plug on orca shows in California, but this park is unrelated to the one in Orlando, which is where Tilikum has died and where other orcas remain.
SeaWorld still has 22 orcas in captivity at its three facilities in Orlando, Florida, all of which are said to be acting completely normal despite the loss of Tilikum. Orca shows are expected to continue, as all of these orcas are still healthy and behaving naturally.
Without a doubt, many SeaWorld-goers enjoyed Tilikum, and the orca will be missed by anyone who went to see the whale in person.
“Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired,” said President & CEO of SeaWorld Joel Manby. “My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family.”