Feature

Tilikum. Kidnapped, Paraded, Killed

Last year saw the return of David Attenborough to our screens as the BBC released Planet Earth:2 a documentary series going face to face with nature.

A man with the most unique voice, telling a tale of how the Earth’s wildlife goes about surviving despite the gloomy and helpless circumstances.

If programmes like this aren’t enough to open your eyes to the impending demise of the creatures we are meant to live with and amongst, then I don’t know what will work.3438141.png

As many of you will have seen, Tilikum, perhaps one of the most famous Orca’s for its time spent in captivity at SeaWorld, has died.

Now what’s guaranteed is line of people cueing up to say ‘why does it matter’ ‘it’s an animal’ or very stupid things along these lines.

It matters because we don’t realise how lucky we are. To have such a vast ecosystem that all can and should co-exist, where both rely on each other to survive.

Orcas are no different to any other animal, land, air or sea. They have as much right to live as what us humans do and considering it’s only humans who hunt Killer Whales, perhaps we’re the ones missing the point.

SeaWorld is renowned  for its Killer ‘trick pony’ whales, who perform regular ‘acts’ in ab to encourage people to pay to further their captivity.

Tilikum was infact kidnapped in 1983 as a young two year old whale, separated from his family and thrown into a tank.

Shamu may also be a name that rings a bell and unsurprisingly so as she was the first Orca to be captured and made to perform at SeaWorld.

Some people are already arguing ‘How do you know they were made to perform’ Well let’s put this simply.

Weighing in at twelve and a half thousand pounds, measuring roughly between twenty five and thirty two feet, can you imagine a creature of this size wanting to perform in a fish tank?

Orcas are accustomed to a natural habitat of miles and miles of unrestricted swimming paths, where they have to hunt for food, as their name suggests it’s what they are made to do.

Regardless of breeding programmes or rehabilitation, why was Tilikum never re-released back into the wild? Because they essentially had a golden penis.

Total disregard to the whales health, the obvious signs of bad health, from his attacks on divers to the collapsing dorsal fin. tilikum_orca_shamuKeepers often branded Tilikum as being aggressive and ill-tempered but what more can you expect.

Only ten of Tilikums 21 calves are still alive today and sort of reflects the failed attempts of places like SeaWorld to mass reproduce Orcas in captivity.

A headline name from the documentary ‘Blackfish’ Tilikum has gone on to gain thousands of signatures in an attempt to stop
the capturing of Killer Whales, which has successfully happened.

But at what cost?

  • Since 1961, 150 Orcas have been taken into captivity, 128 of these are now dead. In the wild the average age of a male is 50-60 years, a female 80-90.
  • At least 164 orcas have died in captivity, not including 30 miscarried or still-born calves.
  • Russia plays host to the most recently captured Orca, with 13 being taken from the wild since 2002.

Killer Whales are pack hunters, more than likely as a family, but being taken into amusement parks takes this life of family away from them.

Captivity in the case of Orcas has done more harm the good and the evidence is there to prove so, only after countless incidents at their expense.

orcas-in-captivity-infographic.jpg

Recent consensuses of Killer Whales suggest an absolute minimum of fifty thousand are currently in the wild and as their huge natural environment allows them to be constantly moving, numbers are hard to track.

Which only emphasises the ludicrous decisions to keep such spectacular creatures locked inside a swimming pool.

It’s not a matter of opinion but a matter of common sense, Orcas are extraordinary mammals. Their sheer size and power classes them as one of the most deadly creatures on the planet.

If you’re that persistent on seeing them then please, I and many others beg you not to invest in places such as SeaWorld but instead a once in a lifetime boat ride out to see them.

See them for what they’re worth, in their natural environment and not headbutting a beach ball or making a splash just to soak an audience.

If people continually give money to these places, those at the top of the chain then have reason to keep bringing these attractions back as it pleases their wallets.

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