Heartbreaking news today as SeaWorld announces the passing of Tilikum. The orca featured heavily in our 2013 film Blackfish and has since become a name synonymous with the species. Blackfish was a defining film for Dogwoof and a title we are extremely proud to represent.
Tilikum was believed to be aged around 36 years old and had been at SeaWorld for 25 years. SeaWorld has spoken about Tilikum's ailing health in the past including lung problems, and their recent statement told us that he passed away early this morning in the Orlando park.
Blackfish was released in 2013 and told the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale who has been involved in high profile human casualties while in captivity. Tilikum was captured from the wild in 1983 when he was just 2 years old.
The film was hugely influential and created a worldwide outcry for the release of Tilikum and other orcas. SeaWorld stock and attendance plummeted as a result of what is commonly referred to as the 'Blackfish Effect', eventually causing SeaWorld to make changes to breeding policies and shows.
The film was supported by many animal rights groups including PETA and Greenpeace. The film also rallied the support of many celebrities including Harry Styles, Cher, Kata Mara and Joanna Halpin (pictured on the left in our Blackfish t-shirt) with many more sharing their thoughts on the must-see film online.
We asked director Gabriela Cowperthwaite for a statement on the news: "Tilikum's life was so incredibly tragic. He experienced unspeakable pain, he caused unspeakable pain, so at least his chapter is over. Now we have to turn our attention to retiring the other whales to an ocean sanctuary. Because this business of holding whales in concrete tanks is so clearly a model where no one wins."
News of his passing spread quickly with Tilikum trending on twitter and major newspapers sharing the news. A selection of first reactions are highlighted below as a small glimpse into the impact he had:
For more on the film, please visit blackfishmovie.com