Caring for Tilikum The Killer Whale

Update (January 6, 2017) - We are saddened to announce Tilikum passed away on January 6, 2017. Learn more about the life and care of Tilikum,

Update (March 19, 2016) - Tilikum's energy level and appetite have improved. He continues to have up and down days, but he is receiving the best care possible. Learn more here. 


We are saddened to report that over the past few weeks, Tilikum's behavior has become increasingly lethargic, and the SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are concerned that his health is beginning to deteriorate. 

Tilikum was not born at or collected by SeaWorld. He came to us from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada. Based on his size at collection in 1983, we estimate that he is about 35 years old, which is near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales. (See Robeck, et al 2015, Table 4). SeaWorld has not collected a whale from the wild in 35 years.  

Since Tilikum became a part of SeaWorld’s family 23 years ago, he has received the best in marine mammal health care and life enrichment available for killer whales – including a focus on his physical health, mental engagement and social activity with other whales. Despite the best care available, like all aging animals, he battles chronic health issues that are taking a greater toll as he ages.
Our teams are treating him with care and medication for what we believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs. However, the suspected bacteria is very resistant to treatment and a cure for his illness has not been found.

“It has been our duty and passion to make sure we give him the utmost care we possibly can,” said Daniel Richardville, Animal Training Supervisor.

Our veterinarians are focused on managing his illness in a way that makes him comfortable and creates an enriching life. Like many older animals facing significant health issues, his condition may continue to fluctuate, and we will keep his friends and fans updated here on SeaWorld Cares.
Tilikum is beloved by the trainers and vets who care for him each day, as well as the thousands of fans who have connected with him during shows and underwater viewing. We truly appreciate your continued support.
You can learn more about the care Tilikum is receiving by watching the video below.  

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