The infamous SeaWorld Orlando orca that sparked the documentary “Blackfish” has died, SeaWorld announced Friday.
Tilikum was estimated to be around 36 years old.
His cause of death isn’t known until veterinarians complete a necropsy, but Tilikum was an older orca and had serious health issues, according to a SeaWorld press release.
SeaWorld veterinarians suspect a lung infection caused by bacteria found in water and soil both in the wild and in captivity. In March, SeaWorld announced that the orca’s behavior was getting more lethargic and provided updates on his fluctuating health status.
“While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it’s important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld and inspired millions of people to care about this amazing species,” SeaWorld wrote in the press release.
Tilikum came to SeaWorld 25 years ago from Sealand of the Pacific in Canada. SeaWorld said it has not collected wild whales in 40 years.
They also announced in March that the end of their orca breeding program after receiving criticism from the release of the documentary “Blackfish,” which centers around Tilikum after he killed one of his trainers in 2010.