Tilikum, known as Tili, the 12,500 pound Orca whale, passed away last Friday at the age of 35 in SeaWorld's Orlando park. He will be greatly missed, but maybe his death can shine a light on the injustice of animals in captivity and start a discussion on what we can do about it.
Tilikum was two years old when he was captured and taken away from his mother in the waters surrounding Iceland. He was transferred to Sealand of the Pacific, a small theme park on a pier in Vancouver with three other whales. There he suffered crowding as well as being raked and attacked by the other whales until SeaLand was closed and he was purchased by SeaWorld in Orlando.
The 2013 documentary "Blackfish" focused on Tilikum, but also on other killer whales who have caused deaths. The film highlights the abuse and unethical conditions in parks like SeaWorld and the negligence of the people running the parks who caused the accidents to happen.
Orcas do not belong in captivity. They are majestic creatures with deep feelings and senses. Animals that swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild do not deserve to spend their entire lives in the equivalent of a bathtub. Orcas are supposed to live between 80 and 100 years. Their dorsal fins should stick straight up. Instead, at SeaWorld, they live to be in their 30s and their dorsal fins flop over to one side, a result of depression and mental trauma. They have dental and stomach problems from trying to eat their way out of the tanks. Although SeaWorld has recently ended its breeding program, Tilikum was forcefully milked for his sperm, (which was then used to impregnate his daughters), all his life.
Maybe you haven't took the time to think about the animals in captivity, but I urge you to think about it. Educate yourself and share articles like this to get more people talking. One day we can empty the tanks, and put these poor creatures back into the ocean where they belong. Rest in Peace Tilikum, at least you are finally free.