News broke today that that Tilikum, the largest orca in captivity, has passed away. Despite reports last year of Tilikum’s deteriorating health due to a drug-resistant bacterial lung infection, his passing is no less saddening and shocking. Tilikum was captured from the waters off Iceland in 1983 aged just 2 years old. He was held in captivity for 33 years; spending the last 24 of those at SeaWorld Orlando.
Following the 2013 release of the film documentary, Blackfish, the real plight of what captivity is like for captive orcas was revealed through Tilikum’s story. Since the documentary’s release; the attendance, profits, stocks and reputation of SeaWorld – a company that once seemed untouchable – has starting sinking. This is all down to Blackfish, and one in particular – Tilikum.
Tilikum’s death comes just two days after the death of the world’s oldest known orca, Granny. On 4th January 2017, The Centre for Whale Research announced that Granny is presumed dead. Granny was 105 years old (born in approximately 1910) and enjoyed a life of freedom in the wild. This is a stark comparison to the life led by Tilikum, who was taken from the wild and endured 33 years in a tank.
”Despite this harrowing difference between both individuals, both lives are to be celebrated. They remind us that our continued flight for the plight of these animals in captivity is something that will never waver until the tanks are empty.” – Samantha Goddard, Secretary of ENDCAP and Dolphinaria-Free Europe
midiamimesMost famous orca in the world pronounced dead