It is with mixed feelings we report the death of Tilikum who died in the early hours of this morning at SeaWorld, Orlando. Since early last year following reports of an illness and concerns for his ongoing health, the park owners issued several statements and he was said to be improving. Captured from the wild in Icelandic waters in November 1983, Tilikum was the largest orca in captivity and clearly suffered mentally from being held captive.
Marine Connection’s Margaux Dodds comments “This magnificent orca should have spent his life in the open ocean with his family, instead he was confined in a tank and made to perform for his living. His stress and frustration levels were so great that many trainers who have worked with him have gone on record, stating it was common knowledge that Tilikum’s mental state made him volatile and in his time in captivity he killed 3 people. Until the documentary Blackfish was released, SeaWorld had refused to publicly acknowledge that there were any problems with Tilikum’s behaviour – not wanting to admit that the orca which they had used to build up their ‘collection’, (around 54% of SeaWorld orcas have his genes via artificial insemination), was suffering from being in confinement.”
Following Tilikum’s death SeaWorld President and CEO, Joel Manby stated “My heart goes out to our team who continued to care for him like family.” But SeaWorld were not Tilikum’s family – had he been left with his real family, he could have enjoyed his life in the wild, and indeed may still be alive today. Marine Connection will continue to campaign, raise awareness and speak out against the keeping of orcas, and other cetaceans, in captivity in the name of ‘entertainment’. Please donate to support our anti-captivity work.