Tilikum, the killer whale at the center of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” passed away at the age of 36 this past weekend. The 544 kilogram (12,000-pound) whale was at one time a huge favourite of SeaWorld guests. Many have strong opinions about SeaWorld and the animals being kept there. This post is not about that debate.
“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.” – SeaWorld President & CEO Joel Manby said
Tilikum, or Tilly to his fans, originally came from a Canadian aquatic centre after being captured off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland at the age of just 2. Sealand of the Pacific was Tilly’s first home, before moving in 1992 to SeaWorld Orlando where he spent the rest of his days entertaining guests.
- Tilly sired 21 calves, 11 of which are still alive.
- Tilikum’s name derives from the Pacific Northwest Chinook language, meaning friend, relations, common people.
- Early on, Tilly performed most of the “One Ocean” shows with his Grandson Trua. Later he would perform with Trua and his daughter Malia.
Tilly attracted many people from different walks of life and different countries. He was a firm favourite who always packed the stadium to see his shows. His power and grace in the water was compared to no other.
I grew up watching Tilly perform. His beauty and playfulness will always be what I remember most.