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Tilikum was only about two years old when he was snatched from his mother off the coast of Iceland in 1983 and thrown into captivity for the next 33 years of his life. Since 1992, he has been a resident of SeaWorld’s Orlando amusement park. Throughout his tragic life, Tilikum has kept in a tank containing 0.0001 percent of the quantity of water that he would travel in a single day in nature, facing chronic illnesses and mental instability as an effect of his captivity. Famous for his role in “Blackfish,” Tilikum is now dying of an incurable lung infection.
In this video, produced by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, it’s clear Tilikum has suffered for nearly his entire existence, and his violent actions against his trainers, do not come at a shock. Had Tilikum not been yanked out of his ocean home, he would likely still be traveling the deep, chilly waters of Iceland for miles each day, going from one destination to the next. Instead, he is in a small pool, losing his life to an avoidable illness.
The sorrowful tale of this orca’s life 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.