Tilikum the whale dies

Star of Blackfish triggered outcry over orca captivity.

by Jennie Kermode

Tilikum
Tilikum Photo: Milan Boers

Tilikum, the killer whale who became central to international debate over cetacean captivity after his appearance in documentary Blackfish, died this morning at his home in SeaWorld, San Diego. He was believed to be around 36 years old and he had been suffering from lung problems.

Originally captured near Iceland, Tilikum was badly bullied by other whales in captivity and went on to be involved in the deaths of three people. He suffered from health problems on several occasions, and from the collapse of his dorsal fin, a problem only seen in captive whales. Wild orcas usually live into their fifties and sometimes much longer. By focusing on his plight, Blackfish precipitated an outcry over the keeping of orcas in captivity.

One of few orcas to reproduce in captivity - albeit artificially - Tilikum is survived by 10 of his 21 children, and two grandchildren.

Dogwoof, which distributed Blackfish, described the news as "heartbreaking."

Share this with others on...

Movies out this week include:

The Italian Job Mari Prophecy We The Animals
News

Condensing language Timothy Greenfield-Sanders on Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, Lou Reed and what's in a gaze

Orbital dynamics Shelagh McLeod on working with Richard Dreyfuss, space, nursing homes and Astronaut

Zeffirelli - cinema’s master of opulence Cultural icon dies at 96

10 films to catch at Edinburgh Film Festival We pick some of our favourites from this year's line-up

Laughing and crying Laughing director Valerio Mastandrea and Chiara Martegiani on crying on cue

Picking up signals Antonin Baudry on Claude Lanzmann, Das Boot and The Wolf's Call

Julianne Moore to receive Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe Red carpet welcome for Affleck, Clarkson and Crudup

More news and features

We're bringing you all the latest from the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival.



We're looking forward to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.



We still have reviews coming in from Sheffield DocFest, Sundance London, the Cannes Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.



Read our full for more.


Visit our festivals section.

Interact

Win X-Men: Dark Phoenix merchandise, including a T-shirt, Cyclops visor, notebook and icon magnet in our latest competition.