Tilikum, the whale who became a household name after “Blackfish” hit theaters in 2013, is now dying with an incurable lung infection. The giant 35-year-old orca has spent nearly his entire life in captivity. Experts say that life in a tank has contributed to numerous chronic health problems, as well as his disastrous emotional distress, which is believed to have led to his killing of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and two other individuals.
Given the conditions Tilikum has lived in at SeaWorld for the past 23 years, it is no wonder he is suffering. On any given day, orcas in the wild travel an average of 100 miles a day, spending their time playing, socializing, and hunting. At SeaWorld, Tilikum has been confined to a tank containing 0.0001 percent of the quantity of water that he would travel in a single day in nature. This illustration perfectly depicts Tilikum’s tragic life in captivity.
SeaWorld would like the public to believe this image is an exaggeration and that Tilikum is receiving proper care, but the fact is, no orca can live the way they are meant to when stuck inside of a bathtub. We hope that it is not too late for Tilikum to receive a life without bars, tricks, or pain, but if he cannot recover from his illness, we all must continue to speak out and take action for the 23 orcas left in SeaWorld’s parks.
The sorrowful tale of Tilikum’s life in captivity should be a warning to us all of what can happen when we keep wild animals locked in pools the size of a fish bowl, purely for the purpose of entertainment. No trick, stunt, or show can possibly be worth the amount of suffering this orca, or the families of his victims have endured.
Now more than ever, we must rally together and boycott these cruel facilities and #EmptyTheTanks once and for all. Only when we stop paying to see animals in captivity can the suffering end.