SeaWorld has announced on Facebook that Tilikum, one of their killer whales, is being treated for a bacterial infection in his lungs. This unfortunate news compounds the recent PR nightmare for the water park and Tilikum’s health continues to get worse. The whale largely known to the general public through the documentary Blackfish, which details the alleged abuse and shady practices at SeaWorld, especially involving the killer whales in the park’s captivity.
Alongside the announcement of this sad news, SeaWorld has released a video detailing how they’re treating Tilikum at the Orlando park:
“The species that we found in Tilikum is a type of bacteria that is found in a variety of species including wild cetaceans,” says Dr. Scott Gearhart, a veterinarian. As a result, the whale receives antibiotics and anti-fungal medications several times a day. Dr. Gearhart takes care to emphasize that “if Tilikum would’ve shown up with this disease in the wild, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d have been gone a long time ago.” He then gets emotional while reporting that Tilikum’s prognosis isn’t great.
Surprisingly, The first comments that show up on the Facebook post are supportive of SeaWorld and Tilikum:
“Thank you so much for your transparency on this issue. This is sadly a reality of caring for animals,” begins Kristen Ben’s comment. Daniel Hutchinson offers his prayers: “My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you that care for Tillikum [sic] and I know he is getting the best care. God bless!”
On Twitter, however, under the #Tilikum hashtag, people are being much more critical of SeaWorld and their practices:
This unfortunate situation is clearly not going to help the public image of SeaWorld, already damaged in recent years thanks to revealing documentaries and reports. It remains to be seen what the future will hold, but this is certainly a major problem.