Tilikum, the orca that inspired the documentary Blackfish, has died at age 36.
The giant mammal was in captivity for more than 25 years, captured in Iceland and brought to Seaworld. In 2010, Tilikum killed a trainer at Seaworld, which prompted a lot of discussion about animals in captivity and how they are treated. He was also involved in two other deaths back in the '90s.
Tilikum was a central figure in the documentary Blackfish which highlighted the poor conditions of killer whales that are kept in captivity. The film provided evidence that killer whales become more aggressive towards humans as well as other whales when they are kept in captivity. Many people called for a boycott of places like SeaWorld after seeing Blackfish and attendance dropped drastically at the parks.
It's unclear what killed Tilikum, but SeaWorld says he had serious health problems associated with age. He also had been treated for a nagging bacterial infection.
"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 & CEO Joel Manby said. "My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family."
Rest in peace, sweet Tilikum.