Popular SeaWorld attraction, Tilikum the killer whale, is nearing death. As of March 8th, scientist and marine biologist have diagnosed the killer whale with an unrelated lung infection, according to the HuffingtonPost.com
The infection was caused by a type of bacteria that SeaWorld has not disclosed to the public.SeaWorld veterinarian, Scott Gearhart, reported that it is, “a type of bacteria that is found in a variety of species, including wild cetaceans,” without naming the pathogen.
“I wish I could say I was tremendously optimistic about Tilikum and his future, but he has a disease which is chronic and progressive and at some point might cause his death,” Gearhart reported. “We have not found a cure for this disease at this point.”
Most SeaWorld activists’ agree that even before being at SeaWorld, Tilikum’s’ life had a tragic past…
Tilikum was two years old when he was captured near Iceland in November 1983. He was kept for about a year in a cement holding tank at Hafnarfjörður Marine Zoo, near Reykjavík, Iceland while he was on the wait-list for a marine park. All he could do while he waited for a year was swim in small circles and float at the surface of the water. Most killer whales in the wild could swim a hundred miles a day.
Finally he was transferred to SeaLand, a run down water park in British Columbia, Canada. His new tank was only a 100-foot-by-50-foot pool that was only 35 feet deep. What was worse is that he had to share it with two other female orcas, Haida and Nootka. The two other dominant females regularly attacked Tilikum.
Tilikum was forced to perform every hour, eight times a day, seven days a week. When the park finally closed the three orcas were all crammed together for more than 14 hours until the park re-opened the next morning.
After a show on February 21, 1991, trainer Keltie Byrne fell into the pool with all three orcas. Keltie was then pulled to the bottom of the tank by Tilikum and was then tossed around by the other two until she drowned. It took the employees over two hours to take her body out of the tank.After her death, SeaLand put Tilikum up for sale as if nothing had happened.
That’s when SeaWorld came in, in 1992. After hearing about a large bull orca was being on the market, they didn’t hesitate to buy. The quickly bought him for the breeding program, giving little thought to his past records. Tilikum’s genes now are held in 54% of the orcas at SeaWorld.