Tilikum, the large male captive orca at SeaWorld Orlando who was implicated in the deaths of two orca trainers and one interloper, died on January 6th from “bacterial pneumonia”, according to a short statement by SeaWorld issued on Friday, Feb. 3rd. Bad news is often released by industries and politicians on Fridays to avoid showing up in headlines during the week when people are more likely to read it.
The life of Tilikum, as depicted in the documentary Blackfish, was a series of stressful and inexcusable abuse. He suffered from a number of problems, notably an ongoing chronic infection that SeaWorld says was incurable and broken teeth, which required daily flushing to prevent decay and further infections in his mouth.
Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) has joined with our Coalition of groups (Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, PETA, and Whale & Dolphin Conservation) to demand that the full necropsy report on Tilikum be released to the public.
In two detailed letters to the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Coalition notes that Tilikum was maintained at SeaWorld under permit No. 774, which has not expired nor been changed by subsequent 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which, at the behest of the captive industry, prohibited NMFS from releasing necropsy results on captive cetaceans to the public, a terrible abuse of the public trust by Congress.
Our Coalition is seeking a meeting with NMFS to discuss the matter further.
The information on what killed Tilikum and what that means for other captive cetaceans is a key issue for the public, and NMFS and SeaWorld should immediately release their necropsy results so the public can understand what happened and what will be done to prevent such issues in the future.