Tilikum is arguably one of the most famous captive orca whales in the world. He’s unforgettable for his size – at 22.5 feet long and 12,000 pounds, he’s the largest orca in captivity.
Most people now know much more about Tilikum than just his colossal size, thanks to the documentary “Blackfish.” We now know the full extent of his bouts of aggression, which have resulted in the deaths of three people – part-time trainer Keltie Byrne of now closed Sealand of the Pacific in 1991, SeaWorld Orlando visitor Daniel P. Dukes in 1999, and veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. We know of how he was taken from the ocean as a baby, and we know how there is something wrong with what we’re doing to marine mammals like him in captivity.
While Tilikum did cause the deaths of three people, the question remains as to how much blame can be placed on the captive orca himself. After 30 years in captivity, cooped up in small concrete pools and forced to perform unnatural behaviors, wouldn’t you go a little insane, too?
Despite all the evidence of the toll captivity has taken on Tilikum, and despite the incredible public reaction to the truth seen in “Blackfish,” SeaWorld has continued to keep him captive and use him as their prized breeding bull.
We are all looking for a way to get active and do our part to help free Tilikum and others held captive by marine parks. A new campaign is under way to do just that – to unite the public’s power and finally free Tilikum from captivity.
The campaign, Free Tilly Now, is being run by the Blue Freedom Foundation, a group of passionate young adults and teenagers whose mission is to “give a voice to the voiceless whales and dolphins who have been captured and forced into a life of captivity, where they are made to endlessly perform tricks or cooperate with swim programs for the profit of marine parks.”
The group states, “We strongly feel that the world needs to know what that ticket to a day of ‘fun and entertainment’ is really supporting … Few people know that purchasing a ticket to a marine park is supporting such archaic cruelty and is actually fueling the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet, in Taiji, Japan.”
The goal of Free Tilly Now is to gain one million signatures on this Change.org petition to send a clear message to SeaWorld and their affiliate, the Blackstone Group, that it is simply illogical to subject Tilikum to such negligent conditions and it’s time to let him free since it’s the right thing to do and it’s what the public wants.
As of publication, the petition has gathered nearly 100,000 signatures and more are being added every day. Sign the petition and share it with your friends, in your classrooms, and at work. Become a part of the one million!
Image Source: Milan Boers/Flickr