Tikikum, the orca who killed his trainer in front of an audience in 2010 and who was the subject of the popular documentary Blackfish, has died at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
SeaWorld has released a statement saying that it is “deeply saddened” by the death of Tilikum, who was born in waters off Iceland and estimated to be around 36 years old.
Trainer Dawn Brancheau died after Tilikum dragged her underwater by her ponytail and struck her during a show – an investigation later found her cause of death to be “drowning and traumatic injuries.”
Blackfish, which was highly critical of water parks that keep killer whales in captivity, linked Tilikum to two further deaths – a trainer who drowned in Canada in 1991, and a man who snuck into SeaWorld overnight in 1999.
Tilikum sired 14 calves while in captivity, although SeaWorld announced an end to its breeding program in 2016, as well as an end to killer whale shows. In a statement made following his death, the company said:
“While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it’s important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld. Tilikum’s life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau. While we all experienced profound sadness about that loss, we continued to offer Tilikum the best care possible.”
Source: BBC News.
Photo: Gerardo Mora / Getty.