Tilikum, the killer whale involved in the deaths of several people and was featured in the documentary Blackfish making the case against keeping the animals in captivity, has died.
The theme park saw its image tarnished after the release of the 2013 documentary, which depicted the captivity and public exhibition of killer whales as cruel.
The film chronicled the life of Tilikum, who was captured in 1983 around the age of two. He spent 25 years in SeaWorld’s care.
In addition to killing trainer Dawn Brancheau in front of horrified guests in Orlando, Tilikum was involved in the deaths of a worker at a different marine park in 1991 and a naked Orlando tourist who was found on the whale’s back in 1999 after trespassing into its tank.
“From the moment he was taken from his ocean family, his life was tragic and filled with pain, as are the lives of the other animals who remain in SeaWorld’s tanks and exhibits,” Lisa Lange, senior vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said.
Tilikum was bred 21 times, with 11 of its offspring previously dying, PETA noted.
After the documentary and protests by PETA, SeaWorld cut jobs, lost promotional deals and faced attendance drops. The company last year pledged to stop breeding killer whales in captivity and to phase out its whale entertainment shows.
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