Tilikum, the Orca Subject of the Blackfish Documentary, Has Died

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Killer Whale That Killed Its Trainer Returns To Show At SeaWorld
Tilikum, RIP. Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

The orca at the center of the 2010 documentary Blackfish has died, SeaWorld announced early Friday morning. The cause of death hasn’t been determined, but the orca had spent the last year battling health problems. The organization estimates he was 36 years old. In 2010, Tilikum’s captivity was the subject of scrutiny when the animal killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau; the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which was met with backlash from SeaWorld, explored Tilikum’s capture and the psychosis of sea animals held in captivity. “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,” SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby said in a statement. With Tilikum’s death, the organization says it now has 22 orcas in captivity.

Tilikum, Orca Subject of Blackfish Doc, Has Died