Seaworld's Tilikum, The Orca That Killed Trainer, Has Died

Tilikum, the orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, has died. On Friday, SeaWorld [...]

Tilikum, the orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, has died. On Friday, SeaWorld officials delivered the sad news, but did not reveal what the cause of death was.

(Photo: Facebook | SeaWorld)

Joel Manby, the SeaWorld President and CEO, gave this statement following the orca's death: "Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired. My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family."

Tilikum was a "beloved member" of the SeaWorld Family for the past 25 years. The whale was estimated to be 36-years-old, and was towards the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales, according to SeaWorld Cares.

While at SeaWorld Orlando, Tilikum was the most prolific male orca. He was more than 22 feet long and weighed 11,800 pounds, according to WBALTV. Tilikum also sired 14 calves.

Tilikum was the main subject of a documentary titled Blackfish that was pivotal in swaying the public's opinion regarding keeping the large whales in captivity.

On the SeaWorld Website, the company gave this statement following Tilikum's death:

The SeaWorld family is deeply saddened to announce that one of its most well-known orcas, Tilikum, has passed away. Tilikum passed away early this morning, January 6, surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care.

Like all older animals, Tilikum had faced some very serious health issues. While the official cause of death will not be determined until the necropsy is completed, the SeaWorld veterinarians were treating a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection. The suspected bacteria is part of a group of bacteria that is found in water and soil both in wild habitats and zoological settings.

Tilikum's veterinarians and caretakers delivered various treatment regimens over the course of this illness, which consisted of, among other things, combinations of anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterials, anti-nausea medications, hydration therapy and aerosolized antimicrobial therapy.

While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it's important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld and inspired millions of people to care about this amazing species.

Tilikum's life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau. While we all experienced profound sadness about that loss, we continued to offer Tilikum the best care possible, each and every day, from the country's leading experts in marine mammals.

R.I.P. Tilikum

[H/T WBALTV, SeaWorld Cares]