SeaWorld's famous orca that killed 3 people and inspired a documentary has died

Tilikum inspired the documentary "Blackfish" and lived to be 36 years old.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

One of SeaWorld Orlando's most famous orcas died Friday.

Tilikum had been with SeaWorld for 25 years and was estimated to be about 36 years old. That puts him near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales.

SeaWorld doesn't go into much detail about what happened to Tilikum. They just say he "faced some very serious and chronic health issues that he was not able to recover from."

You can watch a video in memory of Tilikum here.

Tilikum inspired a documentary

Tilikum is also famous for being the orca that inspired the documentary Blackfish.

The 2013 film criticizes keeping these animals in captivity. The trailer mentions an incident that happened at SeaWorld in 2010. During a performance, Tilikum dragged his trainer underwater and struck her. The BBC says Dawn Brancheau died of downing and traumatic injuries.

That wasn't the first time Tilikum killed a person.

CNN says the whale has been linked to two other deaths. One happened when a trainer fell into a whale tank, the other happened when a man apparently hid in the park and snuck into the tank.

Orcas at SeaWorld

SeaWorld – which has locations in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego – still has 22 orcas.

The attraction used to breed orcas, but it announced in March it would stop. So those 22 orcas are the last generation of killer whales at Sea World.

The remaining orcas will live out their lives there – since they wouldn't survive if they were released – and they'll be cared for in habitats that are made to be more natural.

Next Up

Related