Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tilikum is dying, Sea World finally announces end to breeding of orcas

This morning I received an email from the Humane Society with the above image. After years of keeping and breeding orcas in captivity for its own profit, Sea World has announced it will cease their breeding program and will house no orcas in new facilities.

It's interesting that this announcement comes on the tail of one a week ago in which Sea World announced that Tilikum, their most prolific breeding orca, is dying of a treatment-resistant lung infection.

Tilikum was captured and taken from his mother's side at the age of 2. He is now 35. All of his years in captivity have been spent in small cement tanks. In early years at Sea Land in British Columbia he was brutalized by two female orcas and spent most of his time in a tiny tank in fear. When Sea World purchased him for their breeding program (knowing at that time that he had been involved in the deaths of two people) he was moved to Florida. Since then his sperm has been manually collected many times and he has fathered many orcas for Sea World's profit.

You can read the entire tragic story of his life here:

Since he killed his trainer in 2010 he has been kept in isolation with very little interaction with other whales or with people. Visitors over these six years report that he is depressed and has little interest in food during feeding times. They say there are no toys in his tank. He hangs vertically in the water of his small pool, staring at the gate that leads to the other areas of the park.

I send Tilikum light and hope that his death is not painful. For at least six years petitions and groups have asked that he be moved into a sea tank to live out his life, or released. This has never been done. His plight has inspired books and a movie, Blackfish. And hopefully, the end of an era at Sea World. 

If you'd like to sign the Humane Society's pledge of support for ending orcas in captivity, go here:


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

SeaWorld has a new ceo (11 months) who "doesn't believe that keeping orcas in captivity, breeding them and using them for entertainment fits with their business model any longer". Finally.

Here's a link to the NPR interview. SeaWorld has also pledged to improve the living conditions of their captive stock and to support them as long as they live.

Very good news...

billie said...

Thanks for adding the links. I read everything I could find last night and this morning and had seen the NPR interview as well. I am very glad to hear of the changes but still feel they owe it to the existing animals to place them in natural, healthier settings and hire/retain real keepers who know what the animals need to be happy and healthy. The orcas aren't the only ones suffering from being used as entertainment.

But yes, good news overall. I still feel awful for Tilikum and really wish he could be put into a sea tank and allowed to live out what time he has left swimming with some orca friends.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I heard this on the news too. Poor guy. I wish the same. He should be allowed to live out his remaining time with other Orcas in a huge area.
It's good to know they will stop breeding and keeping these gorgeous, intelligent animals for profit.

billie said...

It feels to me like they think they "own" him and should thus get to keep him (and all the others) there to lure the paying visitors in. I wish they would look at what is best for HIM and for the animals.