TAMPA, Fla. Tilikum, the killer whale featured in the documentary “Blackfish” that made the case against keeping orcas in captivity died on Friday, SeaWorld officials said.
Thought to be about 36 years old, Tilikum also drew international attention for dragging a SeaWorld trainer underwater to her death during a 2010 show in Florida.
Tilikum had been experiencing declining health and receiving treatment for a bacterial lung infection, the company said. In a news release, it noting that Tilikum was near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales.
“Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired,” SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby said in a statement.
The orca was captured in 1983 around the age of 2.
SeaWorld cut jobs, lost promotional deals and faced attendance drops after the 2013 documentary and protests by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).