Tilikum, SeaWorld’s Killer Orca, is Dying
Three tragic human deaths made us finally confront the reality of keeping wild whales in captivity.
I have been anticipating and dreading this announcement for years. This week, SeaWorld warned that Tilikum, SeaWorld’s largest and best-known killer whale, is dying. His health is deteriorating due to a drug-resistant bacterial lung infection. “He has a disease which is chronic and progressive,” an emotional SeaWorld vet explains in a video. “We have not found a cure.” The statement appears to be an effort to prepare the public for Tilikum’s death. “Historically, we never put out that kind of stuff unless we were pretty sure they are going to die,” says John Hargrove, who trained killer whales for 12 years at SeaWorld before leaving in 2012.
Tilikum is a special and transformative killer whale. He was netted off Iceland in