When the news hit that Tilikum, SeaWorld’s giant orca who became a household name after “Blackfish” hit theaters in 2013, is in critical condition, it was hardly a surprise. Life in a tank has contributed to numerous chronic health problems as well as his disastrous emotional distress.
Given the conditions Tilikum has lived in at SeaWorld for the past 23 years, it is no wonder he is suffering. Wild orcas naturally live in closely bonded matrilineal pods and stay close to their immediate family members all their lives. They swim up to 100 miles a day, making them one of the most widely ranging mammals in the world. However, at SeaWorld, Tilikum has been locked in solitary confinement in a tank containing 0.0001 percent of the quantity of water that he would travel in a single day in nature. Even one look at Tilikum’s collapsed dorsal fin (something never seen in the wild, but common in nearly all orca whales in captivity) shows the toll captivity has had on this sorrowful whale.
This stunning photo of a wild orca makes us wish this is the life Tilikum could have had.
Why would we ever pay to see an orca in a tank when we can see this show in the ocean?
As Tilikum suffers from an incurable lung infection, we can only hope that is is not too late for the 23 orcas left in SeaWorld’s parks. Now more than ever, we must rally together to #EmptyTheTanks once and for all, and boycott these cruel facilities. Only when we stop paying to see animals in captivity can the suffering end.
Image source: Tatiana Ivkovich