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Beloved SeaWorld Orca & Blackfish Documentary Subject Tilikum Passes Away At 36 — Read The Sad, Furious Fan Responses

| Filed under: R.I.P.Sad SadAnimal RightsSea CreaturesWhalesAnimal CrueltyViral: AnimalsViral: News

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What a sad day for those who adored Tilikum.

On Friday morning, SeaWorld made the unfortunate announcement that the beloved and infamous orca had passed away at age 36 from a "complicated bacterical infection" in his lungs.

Fans first learned the sea creature was ill in spring of 2016.

Related: Ex SeaWorld Trainer Says SeaWorld Cares Little About Their Whales

As we previously reported, Tilikum was at the center of the anti-SeaWorld documentary Blackfish, which exposed the cruelties of capturing and raising killer whales in captivity. The unfortunate orca was the perfect subject as he was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983 and had lived in marine parks ever since.

The moving doc also honed in on the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at the park who died after Tilikum pulled her under the water and fatally drowned her during a live performance. The tragedy spurred SeaWorld to ban trainers from performing with orcas as well as a national conversation on poaching whales from the wild for entertainment purposes.

In the statement announcing Tilikum's death, SeaWorld also mentioned Dawn, writing:

"While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it's important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld and inspired millions of people to care about this amazing species. Tilikum's life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau. While we all experienced profound sadness about that loss, we continued to offer Tilikum the best care possible, each and every day, from the country's leading experts in marine mammals."

Hmm. We have a feeling some SeaWorld opponents will take issue with the "long and enriching life" part…

Related: Footage Shows Stressed SeaWorld Orca Banging Head Over And Over

In addition to the park's note, many supporters of Tilikum took to social media to express their heartbreak and fury at SeaWorld… take a look at the backlash (below):

BREAKING: After 33 years in captivity, #Tilikum — the orca who was the subject of Blackfish — is dead. SeaWorld's announcement that it is ending its orca-breeding program came too late for Tilikum, who was bred 21 times—and 11 of his offspring died before him. He should be the last orca to die in misery at a SeaWorld abusement park. Tilikum died like he lived: miserable & alone. At just 3 years old, he was kidnapped from his family in the wild & stuck in a concrete cell. He was forced to perform meaningless tricks, sexually manipulated, & used as a sperm bank to breed more orcas for #SeaWorld. He grew so big in his tiny tank that he could not escape the aggressive, incompatible orcas who would leave him torn up & bloodied. His teeth were worn to nubs from chewing underwater prison bars. The constant pain & stress drove Tilikum to kill 3 humans — including trainer Dawn Brancheau. It's no wonder Tilikum succumbed to mental illness under such conditions, & then finally, to incurable physical illness. His life was tragic and filled with pain, and the lives of the animals forced to remain in SeaWorld's tanks and exhibits will be as well. He died without ever again knowing freedom. He never got to feel the ocean currents & or see his family again. RIP Tilikum. You're finally free.A photo posted by peta2 (@peta2) on Jan 6, 2017 at 8:25am PST

What crushing posts. Hopefully Tilikum will be the last whale to suffer such indignities at SeaWorld.

You can read the full statement from the park HERE.

[Image via SeaWorld.]

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