Tillikum, The Killer Whale From The Seaworld Documentary ‘Blackfish’, Has Died

The 2013 documentary lifted the lid on animal management at Seaworld.


Blackfish, the low-budget documentary whose influence forced US sea park company SeaWorld to straighten up its act, lost its main protagonist today.

The orca whale Tillikum has passed away after a “persistent and complicated” black lung infection.

If you’ve seen Blackfish, you’ll know that in 2010 Tillikum dragged his trainer Dawn Brancheau under water and drowned her. Brancheau’s death was not the first violent incident associated with Tillikum, and the documentary’s producers claimed he was driven to violence by mistreatment and cruelly confined living circumstances.

Various former SeaWorld trainers spoke out against the park and its animal mistreatment, and the film further claimed that Tillikum was “driven mad” as a result of how he was treated.

In 2015, SeaWorld announced that it would phase out orca shows at its park within two years, and that it would aim to rebrand, focusing more on conservation than entertainment.

According to a statement, Tillikum died while surrounded by trainers and veterinarians. He was roughly 36 years old.