SeaWorld has announced the passing of Tilikum, the orca profiled in the eye-opening documentary Blackfish.
Officials didn’t give a cause of death but said Tilikum had faced serious health issues, including a persistent lung infection. He was estimated to be 36 years old.
Joel Manby, SeaWorld President and CEO, said in a statement: “Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family.”
If you haven’t seen Blackfish, it chronicled Tilikum’s life, including the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, who was interacting with Tilikum before a live audience when he pulled her from a platform by her arm and held her underwater.
The documentary argued that killer whales become more aggressive toward humans and each other when in captivity. And it played a huge role in changing people’s opinions on keeping killer whales in captivity.
SeaWorld Entertainment officials announced in March 2016 that the tourist attraction would end its orca breeding program and theatrical shows involving killer whales.
But heartbroken Twitter users are still hitting out at SeaWorld for Tilikum’s captivity.
It’s making many remember watching Blackfish.
And others are saying Tilikum is finally free.