Sea World’s Tilikum Is Sick

Many people recognize the name Tilikum. As a controversial bull orca that killed three people, including Sea World Trainer Dawn Brancheau, he is one of the most famous killer whales in the world.

The 22-foot, 12,000 lb bull orca is sick, although he is responding to treatment. Colleen Gorman, CEO of the Orca Project, has stated that she believes Sea World is simply waiting for the killer whale to die. He is currently being kept in an 8-foot deep medical pool. After observing him, Gorman commented, “He didn’t move much, but how can he in that tiny pool that is only 8-feet deep, with nowhere to go?” While Gorman agreed with Sea World’s statement that Tilikum’s condition has been improving, she thought that it was unbelievable after him being ill for over a week. She wouldn’t have expected him to have made it this far after being that sick.

Former Sea World trainer Samantha Berg does not think that Tilikum belongs in the spotlight. When interviewed by CBS News co-anchor Erica Hill in April 2011, Berg stated, “He’s been extremely stressed, because he’s got broken teeth and he’s been on antibiotics on and off.”

After the 2010 incident that ended in Brancheau’s death, Tilikum was isolated for 13 months. He was put back in the public arena in May 2011, but trainers are still not allowed to be in the water with Tilikum. For safety concerns, no one is allowed to enter the water
to treat him either. The only situation in which he is physically touched is when he is out of the water. Hence, the only time which Tilikum truly receives stimulation is during the shows. Otherwise, he is kept in complete emotional solitude. Gorman cannot believe “he’s alive still because he’s pretty much isolated all the time, but he keeps on going.”

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Related article: “Fin Collapse in Killer Whales”