We’re barely into 2017 and Tilikum the orca at the centre of the hugely popular Blackfish has sadly died.
The 36-year-old bull orca was captured in the 80s before being transferred to the controversial attraction SeaWorld, Orlando, in the early 90s.
Tilly – as he was better known – claimed three deaths in his reasonably lengthy, captive life.
The handsome beast was also the father to 21 calves in his lifetime, with ten still alive to this day.
In March last year, SeaWorld announced Tilikum’s health was deteriorating and that he had a rare lug infection that was putting a strain on his huge body.
Tilikum was an astounding 22,5 feet long and weighed an incredible 12,500 pounds, making him the largest killer whale in captivity.
The first death Tilikum was involved with was a 21-year-old trainer who accidentally fell into his tank with his two buddies.
The whales pulled her to the bottom of the pool, dragged her round and stopped her from trying to re-surface.
Despite SeaWorld’s attempts to rescue her with a life-ring, she sadly drowned.
The second life that Tilikum took belonged to a 27-year-old man who trespassed into his enclosure, to his own tragic downfall…
He was found the next day on the whale’s back with multiple wounds after he’d been tortured by the whale before being finally drowned.
Tilly’s last kill was one of his trainers who he dragged into the pool and subsequently drowned.
Despite Tilikum’s ‘dubious’ character, he was still a much loved creature at SeaWorld, bringing joy to hundreds of visitors with the vast majority of experts and animal rights activists firmly believing his violent tendencies were the result of a life spent in captivity.