The Internet Mourns Tilikum, The Orca Subject Of The SeaWorld ‘Blackfish’ Documentary

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Tilikum, the orca featured in the 2013 SeaWorld documentary Blackfish, died Friday morning. The 36-year-old orca had been suffering from a “persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection” since March of last year, although an exact cause of death has yet to be determined. The park stated that Tilikum died surrounded by trainers, care staff and veterinarians.

The film focused on Tilikum to document the abuse and consequences of keeping these animals in captivity, as the orca, captured in 1983 off the coast of Iceland, had been responsibly for three human deaths — most recently his trainer Dawn Brancheau in SeaWorld Orlando in 2010. The response to the film resulted in a huge backlash to SeaWorld, with many celebrities and musicians calling for a boycott of the theme park.

Joel Manby, the President and CEO of SeaWorld, released a statement Friday expressing his condolences on the famous orca’s passing, saying: “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.”

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are naturally not buying SeaWorld’s words of consolation, and were quick to remind everyone of the decades of suffering Tilikum experienced prior to his death.

Suffice to say, many others echoed a similar sentiment, as an outpouring of support for Tilikum and anger towards SeaWorld surfaced on Twitter:

R.I.P., Tilikum. It’s with any hope that his life and subsequent death will have an effect on the way these magnificent creatures are treated by humans in future generations.

(Via USA Today)