Tilikum, the infamous orca who was involved in the deaths of his trainer, marine park worker and a tourist, has died at estimated 36 years old. The orca has been suffering from serious health problems but the cause of death has not yet been named.
Tilikum has featured in the 2013 U.S. documentary ‘Blackfish’, which argued against the captivity of animals and highlighted the cruelty of confinement of killer whales in small parks, like SeaWorld. The documentary suggested that the imprisonment of orcas drives them to psychosis and, subsequently, to attacking humans. Despite various defensive arguments by SeaWorld officials, the park’s attendance and profits plummeted after the release of ‘Blackfish’. The impact of documentary was so great that the controversial whale shows came to an end last year.
The practice of keeping wild animals (not exclusively orcas) in captivity for public shows is an ancient concept and a cruel practice, that should be obsolete. Wild animals in captivity tend to suffer from various health problems and emotional difficulties. Tilikum has been involved in the deaths of three people and there are also reports of other orcas turning on their trainers and trying to drown them. However, Tilikum is a controversial icon that helped to draw public’s focus onto the ethics of wild animal captivity and the various emotional effects they may suffer from as a result of their captivity.
By Aldas Krūminis