Millions around the world heard the name 'Tilikum' when the Killer Orca whale killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010 (Tilikum had also killed 2 humans prior to the one at SeaWorld). On Jan 6, 2017, Tilikum was pronounced dead due to a "drug-resistant lung infection" and after just 36 years of life, while living 33 of those in captivity.
The whale brought a large focus to animals in captivity and what it truly does to them. Prior to the incident, not many would think too long or hard about what a large animal, such as a whale or a dolphin, really goes through while captive in a tank not even a fraction of the size of the ocean. Although, the world has finally realized that training these animals for pure entertainment isn't worth the years of life that we are taking from them.
Orca whales, on average, have a life expectancy of between 30-50 years, a maximum lifespan of 60-70 years for males and 80-100 for females. The average life span for the whales that are in captivity at SeaWorld have only lived to 13. Tilikum did live to be 36 but he ended up on the low end of the life expectancy scale for his kind. It is such a shame to see how humans are treating wildlife yet think it's for the better. After the documentary 'Blackfish' aired, the protesting of places like SeaWorld was spreading while SeaWorld themselves denied every claim that was made in the documentary, yet we could all see the whales and dolphins were/are showing signs of stress from being in captivity such as collapsed dorsal fins, increased aggression, broken teeth and more.
My hope is that the life of Tilikum and the other whales that are still captive will show the people orchestrating their roles at theme parks and aquariums will realized that there is no reason that a wild animal should be captive. SeaWorld should be a place of education or even rehabilitation, but never entertainment through the captivity and training of these precious animals. So speak up and let your voice be heard, protest the captivation of wild animals.
Rest in peace, Tilikum.