Sad! Tilikum, the SeaWorld orca whale who killed his trainer seven years ago during a live show and inspired the documentary ‘Blackfish’, has died at 36. Get more details here.
Unfortunately, 2017 has claimed one of its first victims. The SeaWorld orca whale named Tilikum passed away on Jan. 6, at the theme park in Orlando. His cause of death has not been determined, but SeaWorld officials stated that he was being treating for “very serious health issues,” including a bacterial infection at the time of his death, the NY Daily News reports. Today, we remember Tilikum as the beautiful marine animal who opened our eyes to the horrors of animal captivity.
“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,” SeaWorld President & CEO Joel Manby said in an official statement on Jan. 6. “My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family.”
Many fans took to Twitter following the news to send their final farewells to the orca whale. Despite the 2010 incident, in which Tilikum killed his trainer Dawn Brancheau in front of a live audience, most people still showed support for Tilikum. “May Tilikum finally get some rest, and in peace,” one person tweeted. “You are now swimming free,” another fan chimed in.
May Tilikum finally get some rest, and in peace. https://t.co/AB6qqCj0Fr
— Christina (@arunningmess) January 6, 2017
— BornFree (@AlwaysBornFree) January 6, 2017
— Will Talbut (@WillTalbut) January 6, 2017
Tilikum you are now swimming free 🐳⭐️
— Robyn Perham (@Robyn_Perham) January 6, 2017
The beloved mammal was most recognized for being featured in the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which discussed the orca’s 2010 controversy. The whale was reportedly interacting with the deceased trainer when he suddenly pulled her from a platform and held her under water until she drowned.
While the documentary did touch on the national outrage, it also examined the nature of whale captivity, revealing the devastating and cruel treatment many whales in captivity have to endure. As a result, the highly acclaimed film turned many critics against SeaWorld, arguing that the whale’s unusual behavior was only caused by the aggressive treatment from humans. PETA and celebrities have banded together to put an end to whale captivity once and for all. Rest in peace! You are finally free Tilikum!
HollywoodLifers, what are your thoughts about Tilikum’s death? Let us know in the comments below!