As we previously reported, SeaWorld faced immense backlash following the release of animal rights documentary Blackfish, an exposé which revealed the dangers of breeding and keeping whales in captivity. The park has since faced immense public pressure, dropping ticket sales, and a decreased fan base.
Now it looks like the company is trying to make good on their promise to improve the lives of their beloved orcas… or are they?
According to SeaWorld, a replacement program called "Orca Encounters" (set to debut this summer) will be a less flashy and "education-based" experience depicting the "natural behaviors" of killer 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.
An orca (AKA killer whale) at an aquatic attraction in the Canary Islands was captured on video in distress, banging its head against the enclosure as it tried to escape its small confinement.
Ric O'Barry's organization, Dolphin Project, captured the video (above) at Loro Parque, an attraction in the Spanish island territory just off the coast of Africa, and it shows some distressing moments.
The attraction apparently has six orca whales on premises, all of which are owned by SeaWorld. Four were sent there to breed, while one was born at the park, and the sixth was rescued from the wild.
It's that sixth whale — named Morgan — that O'Barry's activists believe is the one banging its head against the enclosure wall in the video.
Activists contend that she is stressed and scared in her enclosure, with one citing a study that observed her having trouble with a larger, more aggressive male orca that is affecting her quality of life:
Over the past few weeks, the Orca has become "resistant to treatment" for a possible infection in his lungs, and has exhibited increasingly "lethargic" behavior.
The park issued the following statement about Tilikum's health:
"We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum's behavior has become increasingly lethargic, and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate. The suspected bacteria is very resistant to treatment and a cure for his illness has not been found."
The roughly 35-year-old animal has lived at SeaWorld for 23 years, captured from his wild family when he was just two years old.
During his captivity, the whale has been involved in at least three human deaths — including the 2010 death of park trainer Dawn Brancheau, who one day was pulled into the water by Tilikum and aggressively played with until she died.
After Dawn's death, Tilikum was isolated from the rest of the whales, but kept at the center of SeaWorld's artificial insemination program — he's fathered 21 of the park's calves, only half of which are still alive today.
Though it sounds like the orca won't make it, some have not given up hope.
Check out the video (below) to hear SeaWorld's medical experts discuss Tilikum's treatment:
According to an investor's webcast that took place on Monday afternoon, SeaWorld is phasing out their orca shows at their San Diego location after guests responded strongly over the past several years.
It's hard to imagine the Oscars without its jaw-dropping ending!
As you know, La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of the Best Picture award when it was really Moonlight that won! The shocking moment led to an awkward series of events, with even Jimmy Kimmel cutting in to smooth everything over.