SeaWorld: Tilikum, Orca That Killed Trainer, Has Died

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ORLANDO, Fla. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Tilikum, an orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, has died.

SeaWorld says in a statement posted online that Tilikum died Friday. A cause of death had not yet been determined, though the orca was being treated for a persistent bacterial infection. He was estimated to be 36 years old.

Tilikum was profiled in the documentary “Blackfish,” which helped sway popular opinion against keeping killer whales in captivity at SeaWorld parks.

As SeaWorld’s most prolific male orca, he sired 14 calves in the 23 years he was at SeaWorld Orlando.

Criticism over keeping orcas captive grew after Tilikum grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau following a “Dine with Shamu” show and pulled her into the pool, killing her.

Tilikum was also involved in the deaths of two other people in the 1990s.

In 1991, a part-time trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia slipped accidentally into a pool holding Tilikum and two other orcas. They submerged her and dragged her around the pool. The park closed a short time later, and Tilikum was moved to SeaWorld Orlando.

In 1999, a man who had trespassed into SeaWorld Orlando after the park closed was found dead in Tilikum’s pool.

It was just last year when SeaWorld announced it was ending its practice of orca breeding and ending theatrical shows in favor of “new, inspiring natural orca encounters.”

There is a 250 acre SeaWorld marine park in San Antonio.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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