Tilikum, also known as Tili, is the famous Orca whale that took centre stage of the powerful Netflix documentary, Blackfish.
He’s SeaWorld’s biggest attraction, but also made headlines when his trainer died during a show back in 2010.
The killer whale has become a powerful symbol for animal rights and for the potential dangers of keeping wild animals in captivity.
Now, it seems that Tilikum’s tragic story might be on the verge of coming to an end, after SeaWorld announced that his health is suffering.
Making the announcement in a blog post, they said, ‘We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum’s behavior has become increasingly lethargic and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate.’
Tili is believed to be around 35-years-old, which is ‘near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales’, according to the SeaWorld website. He has been under their care for 23 years.
The statement also says, ‘Despite the best care available, like all ageing animals, he battles chronic health issues that are taking a greater toll as he ages.’
‘Our teams are treating him with care and medication for what we believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs. However, the suspected bacteria is very resistant to treatment and a cure for his illness has not been found.’
Naturally, social media was quick to react to the sad news.
One tweet read, ‘Hearing about very poorly Tilikum the Orca makes me very sad. We NEED to see the end of keeping these beautiful whales in cages! #Tilikum’.
Another simply said, ‘Aww feel so saddened about the news of Tilikum’.