Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia.org
We are deeply saddened to announce that the beloved orca whale, Tilikum, has passed away. In the early morning hours of January 6th, he passed away surrounded by the SeaWorld trainers, care staff and veterinarians that have dedicated their lives to caring for him.
Tilikum first became apart of the SeaWorld 25 years ago and has since received the most advanced marine mammal healthcare and life enrichment available anywhere for orca whales, which included a focus on his physical health, mental engagement and social activity with other whales.
Tilikum was estimated to be about 36 years old, which is near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales according to Dr. Douglas DeMaster of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center who authored an independent study. Even animals in the best of care can fall ill. Tilikum battled serious health issues, which he ultimately surrendered too.
According to SeaWorld officials, “While the official cause of death will not be determined until the necropsy is completed, the SeaWorld veterinarians were treating a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection. The suspected bacteria is part of a group of bacteria that is found in water and soil both in wild habitats and zoological settings.
“Tilikum’s veterinarians and caretakers delivered various treatment regimens over the course of this illness, which consisted of, among other things, combinations of anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterials, anti-nausea medications, hydration therapy and aerosolized antimicrobial therapy.”
Joel Manby, the President and CEO of SeaWorld commented, “Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of all the trainers, care staff, veterinarians and others who worked with him, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired.”
In times like this, it is best to remember and respect the beloved mammal. Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while in the care of SeaWorld and inspired millions of people to care for the species. Let’s be honest, those who aim to push their negative agenda… probably learned to love killer whales from SeaWorld.
The SeaWorld Cares blog elaborated on the truth, “He received the best possible care, each and every day, from the country’s leading experts in marine mammals. And, if faced with this disease in the wild, he would likely have died long ago.”
In this time we ask that you share your condolences and we thank you for support in advance.
Want to learn more about Tilikum or read stories from his trainers? Here are some answers to your many questions about Tilikum:
What happened to Tilikum?
We’re saddened to say that Tilikum faced some very serious and chronic health issues that he was not able to recover from. You can learn more about his life and care at www.SeaWorldCares.com/Tilikum.
How old was Tilikum?
Tilikum was estimated to be about 36 years old, which, according to independent studies, is slightly older than wild male killer whales live in the region where he originated and similar to males from other locations.
How many killer whales does SeaWorld care for now?
With the loss of Tilikum, SeaWorld now cares for 22 orcas at its three facilities in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego.
Was Tilikum born at SeaWorld?
Tilikum was not born at or collected by SeaWorld. He came to SeaWorld in 1991 from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada. SeaWorld has not collected a whale from the wild in nearly 40 years.
Will the killer whale shows stop?
The One Ocean show at SeaWorld Orlando has been temporarily stopped and will resume in the coming days. SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it was introducing new and inspiring orca encounters. Learn more by visiting SeaWorldCares.com/Future.
How are the other whales responding?
The rest of the whale group is doing well and are behaving normally. It is not uncommon for the animals to continue to behave normally after a group member leaves the pod.