Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tribute to Tilikum

On 6th January 2017, another orca life was lost in captivity – that life being Tilikum. Tilikum rose to infamy after he killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Branchaeu on 24th January 2010. Makers of the film Blackfish (2013) used him as the subject to expose the controversy of keeping killer whales in captivity. Despite Tilikum being involved in three human deaths, SeaWorld regarded him a valuable orca due to his high reproductive success. Tilikum fathered 21 of SeaWorld’s calves, creating a highly imbred captive orca gene pool, due to the lack of genetic diversity formed from over-using Tilikum's genes.
Although he was a highly ‘prized’ whale, he did not live an A-Lister life. During his time at his first captive home at SeaLand of the Pacific, Tilikum was bullied by tank-mates Haida 2* and Nootka 4*, and forced to share the same space as them. Then at his second park, he was also treated with aggression by dominant females. As a result, Tilikum spent the majority of his time in isolation, living a lonely life with only small amounts of stimulation by the trainers.
Even though Tilikum took away 3 lives, no one can really blame him, because it was most likely the confinement of his environment that lead him to behave in this way. Tilikum only spent 3 short years of his life in the wild before he was taken into the imprisonment of captivity. Had Tilikum never been captured, he would have lived a life with his mother and other family members, probably surpassed the age of 36, and never harmed a human in his life.

In another life Tilikum. May you rest in peace. At least the loneliness has stopped now.

1 comment:

  1. Isolation will bring out the worst in social animals. Nicely written Sherilyn 😉