A report from Seaworld has revealed that Tilikum – the subject of the now infamous Blackfish documentary – is close to death.
Tilikum is believed to be suffering from a bacterial infection in his lungs and so far a treatment for his illness has not been found, reports KelownaNow.
Over the past few weeks, Tilikum’s behaviour has apparently becoming increasingly lethargic.
In a statement Seaworld said:
The veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate.
The 35-year-old whale gained notoriety after Blackfish highlighted the orca’s alleged responsibility for the deaths of several people during his time in captivity.
The documentary shows footage of the death of Dawn Brancheau, an experienced SeaWorld trainer who Tilikum pulled into the pool by her ponytail during a live show in 2010 – resulting in her drowning.
Two other human deaths have been connected to Tilikum during his time in captivity. The earliest occurred in 1991 when he was resident at Sealand Of The Pacific in Canada and the second when a body was discovered in his pen at Seaworld in 1999.
Although the exact cause of the incident remains unknown, Blackfish points to the sensory deprivation and stress the whales suffer through being held in captivity.
However, Seaworld insist:
Tilikum has received the best in marine mammal health care and life enrichment available for killer whales – including physical health, mental engagement and social activity with other whales.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t suffer.