11 November 2010

November 14 is International Free Tilikum Day

In recognition of the 27 years Tilikum the orca has spent in captivity, supporters have declared Sunday, November 14 International Free Tilikum Day.

The 30-year-old creature resides at SeaWorld in Florida, in a small pool, out of view of the public due to an incident last February that resulted in the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.

He is kept isolated from people as well as other orcas, which is an extremely unnatural condition for the animals. In the wild, orcas travel in large pods of up to forty and are very social creatures. Orcas in the wild are friendly towards humans and there is no record of an orca harming a human while in their natural environment.

SeaWorld has an abysmal record in caring for these magnificent animals that make them billions of dollars per year.

Orcas natural lifespan in the wild is 60 years, but most captive orcas die before they reach 20. Over the past 24 years, 23 orcas have died at SeaWorld facilities with 22 of them less than 25-years-old. Their deaths were caused by severe trauma, intestinal gangrene, acute hemorrhagic pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, chronic kidney disease, chronic cardiovascular failure, septicemia and influenza. Just this last fall, two whales, Sumar and Kalina died unexpectedly.

The story of Tilikum's captivity began in Iceland in November, 1983 around the time he was 2 years of age. He has grown to be the largest orca in captivity at 22 feet 6 inches long and weighing 12,300 pounds.

Tilikum may not be useful to SeaWorld anymore as a performer, but he is still one of their most successful breeders, siring 13 calves over the last eight years.

If you think 27 years of confinement is enough for Tilikum and you want to support him and other captive whales, you can write a letter, organize a protest, or advertise “International Free Tilikum Day” on your website, blog or Facebook page.

To find out more information go to www.tilikum.webs.com, or on Facebook at Tilikum the Orca.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/martin_julia