He spent most of his 35 years in captivity, his tanks the equivalent of a bathtub to a human.
He was the focus of the documentary 'BlackFish', which exposed the conditions captive orcas were subject to in institutions such as SeaWorld. Conditions which ultimately lead to Tilikum tragically taking a human life.
His suffering was great. In the last years of his life he was in constant pain from various captivity inflicted illnesses and side effects including tooth infections, chronic bacterial infections, and of course - mental + emotional trauma.
Reports say that at 35 he reached the high average age expectancy for a male orca. This is true...this is the life expectancy of a CAPTIVE male orca. In the wild they can often live past 100 years.
I honour Tilikum for his role in this world. He was a great teacher to human kind through his suffering and the tragedy that was his life.
Animal teachers leave this earth when their mission is complete.
Tilikum leaving at this time gives me great hope. His work here is done. The people are awoke to the cruelty of orca captivity. Hearts have been opened. SeaWorld is losing visitors and have announced they will no longer breed captive orcas. Momentum is building and I pray now that his legacy will empty the tanks.
If you'd like to help the captive orca who are still suffering right now, check out the documentary BlackFish , share what you learn with friends + family, and visit http://emptythetanks.org/ to find out how you can help , so we can end this cycle of suffering once and for all.