SeaWorld Orlando have just announced that, sadly, its star Orca has died.
The themed entertainment company recently reported that Tilikum was facing some very serious and chronic health issues that he was not able to recover from.
They also say that Tilikum was estimated to be about 36 years old when he died, which is slightly older than most male killer whale live in the wild.
SeaWorld became the object of extremely scrutiny in 2013 when a documentary, entitled Blackfish, was released by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films. The documentary focused on the captivity of Tilikum and his involvement in the deaths of three SeaWorld whale trainers.
After the release of the documentary, many of the trainers who interviewed for the film gave heavy criticism towards it. Some claimed that the documentary crew edited out some of their statements to fit the overall narrative that the movie presented.
In January 2014, the family of the late trainer Dawn Brancheau said neither they nor the foundation named after her were affiliated with the film, and that they did not believe it accurately reflected Brancheau or her experiences
Joel Manby, SeaWorld CEO & President, gave an official statement about the death of the whale. He said, “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. My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family.”
The park has stated that the other whales in the pod are all behaving normal, which is not uncommon when a member of their pod dies.
Our thoughts are with the entire SeaWorld Orlando family during this time.