Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Friday, 6 January 2017

RIP Tilikum (The Whale from Blackfish)

RIP Tilikum (The Whale from Blackfish)

The Debrief: Going to that big ocean in the sky


For those of you who don’t know who Tilikum is? Shame on you. Tilikum was SeaWorld’s famed killer whale and star of so-sad-we-could-drown-in-our-own-tears documentary, Blackfish.

Over his twenty-five years at American theme park SeaWorld, Tilikum, who at almost 7 meters long weighed 11,800 pounds, took the lives of three people, most prominently, veteran orca trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Low-budget 2013 documentary Blackfish attempted to prove that Tilikum’s aggression and violence were direct responses to his confined captivity. 

The documentary caused outrage far beyond that director Gabriela Cowperthwaite had imagined. Highly-publicised protests and demonstrations were staged at the park while trainers and entertainers began to pull out of performances. SeaWorld’s visitor numbers soon dwindled, profits fell and in 2016, SeaWorld conceded to phase out its theatrical shows all together, focusing instead on program of animal conservation.


SeaWorld have released a statement today announcing the death of the of 36 year old Tilikum due to ‘very serious health issues.’