The killer whale that attacked and drowned a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 died early Friday, SeaWorld said.
SeaWorld said in March that Tilikum’s health had been deteriorating after he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in his lungs.
— SeaWorld (@SeaWorld) January 6, 2017
“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,” said President & CEO of SeaWorld Joel Manby. “My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family.”
Tilikum arrived at SeaWorld 25 years ago from from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada. He was estimated to be about 36 years old, and was near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales according to an independent scientific review.
Tilikum pulled SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water in 2010, killing her after a show at the theme park. In the wake of Brancheau’s death, SeaWorld removed trainers from the water and implemented new safety procedures.
Tilikum was profiled in the documentary “Blackfish,” which helped sway popular opinion against keeping killer whales in captivity at SeaWorld parks.