Tilikum returns to performing at SeaWorld Orlando

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

SeaWorld's killer whale, Tilikum, will return to performing at the theme park today 13 months after killing trainer Dawn Brancheau. In a statement, executives from SeaWorld defended Tilikum's reentry into the performing world saying it "is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment."

Read more from ABC News.

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As much as it is possibly a bad decision to return the whale to the show, there really isn't much else they can do. They can't put him down (you think people are screaming about putting him back in the show? Just wait 'til word gets out that SeaWorld is putting one of its orcas down), they can't isolate him in a tank for the rest of his life, and they can't release him out into the wild (again, you think the uproar is bad now? It is a known and proven fact that releasing a wild animal that has lived in captivity - especially orcas - is a certain quick death sentence. The uproar over that would drown the current uproar from humane groups).

The well being of a long-captive wild animal is a delicate thing, and SeaWorld is in a situation where they just can't win. It is unfortunate that they took on what now seems to be an unmanageable whale, but when you're in the business of conservation education and the other choice is the animal's almost certain death...

Original BlueStreak64

maXairMike said:
As much as it is possibly a bad decision to return the whale to the show

I think this is the best decision they have made in the last two years, and I think they found an acceptable way to mitigate the risk.

Can't wait to see him tomorrow.

Last edited by CPJ,

Tilikum did not do anything wrong. Granted, we all feel bad and there was a death, he had a history of being tempermental. There is also a risk working with animals. And before people call me insensitive, its my opinion, and I love Sea World, and would do that job without thinking twice.

Zoo's have injuries from bites, beatings, mis-handlings, the works. They just don't make headlines because zoo keepers and trainers have an accepted risk working with lions, bears, and tigers, etc. Same goes with circus folk. yeah, they may smell like cabbage like Austin Powers says, but they get roughed up from elephants and gorillas.

I look forward to the new Shamu Show on my next Orlando visit.

Agent, are you nuts. The animal killed the trainer 2 years ago. IF it was a dog then it would be put down in a heart beat. The same should be said for this killer whale. Take it out back in a take away from the other whales and from the public view, kill it. Sell the meat in the park. The public wouldn't know what happened.

A dog is a domesticated animal. An orca is not.


Tekwardo's avatar

Yeah, there's a huge gap between a domesticated (likely pet) dog and an Orca. Besides, from everything I've read, it doesn't seem that anyone thinks that the orca was trying to kill the trainer. Trust me, if you've seen the video of the pelican in the pool of whales, you'd know what these animals are capable of.

It's a sad situation, but I think Sea World has handled it the best way they could. This isn't some animal you get at a pet store or off craigslist. Sea World and the trainers know the risks. It isn't fair to the animal that Sea World has held in captivity it's entire life for them to kill it because it was acting naturally.

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Why kill an orca for being an orca? Domesticated dogs have been bred over centuries not to kill us (at least vast majority of them anyway). When one does, that is a problem. With Sea World, only the trainers are at risk with the orcas, and the trainers know the risks. Dog that kills likely will have another opportunity unless put down (or at least put out to pasture far away which in some circumstances may make sense).

Tekwardo's avatar

And dogs that attack are being agressive. No one is certain that that is what happened with Tilikum.

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After working at the park and at Shamu Stadium during the accident I must say I am very excited to hear that Tily is back in the show! After all he makes the show so much better especially since the trainers are not in the water anymore. I was lucky enough to know Dawn and I must say, she is a wonderful women and loved that whale. She died happy and that is all that matters. The media really through this whole story through chaos and turned it into something that it wasn't. Tily didn't attack her or anything like that, I was a witness of it and was one of the first on scene.
I can't wait to check out the show!

There's always option D: call up PETA, Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, etc., and say since you think you can do better, we're going to give you your chance. So what time will you be here to pick him up?

Last edited by RatherGoodBear,
rollergator's avatar

"Playtime" with even a housecat can sometimes get a little rough (they seem to not *get* the fact that we don't have fur)...when you're dealing with something the size of an orca, play can easily become fatal without even the slightest of bad intentions. Heard someone on the radio yesterday opining that Tilly would kill again as soon as he got the opportunity....it's not a serial killer, it's an ORCA!

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

ApolloAndy's avatar

Serial killer whale?

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Tekwardo's avatar

Ha ha!

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

In fairness, Tilikum does have three human kills.

There are two other things Sea World could do with Tilikum--

a) Swap with another park. That's what Six Flags did. Perhaps not the most responsible option, but if Sea World can't manage Tilikum, maybe another park can. That said, I have a feeling that Sea World probably has the most qualified and talented staff for handling orcas, including impulsive ones.

b) Swap with another Sea World park. Get Tily out of Orlando so that the Sentinel will quit talking about him. On the other hand, of all of Sea World's facilities, Orlando is probably the best place for a problem like Tilikum.

So, if they're gonna put him back to work anyway, they might as well put him to work in Orlando, with the staff he's come to know pretty well....

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Hey, they can't force Tilikum into retirement. He gets paid whether he swims in cricles all day and makes facebook posts (he had like 8 pages at one time I was told) or splashes the bee-jeezus out of the first 20 rows.

Whales are 'pod' managed, and he has sired most of Sea Worlds', so breaking up the Orlando family is bad, but he has children at the other parks. Obviously I hope there aren't any more incidents with him, but the show must go on.

Where's Irwin Allen when you need him?

Coaster, a dog is still a wild animal despite it's domestic nature. The fact is that this particular killer whale has killed more than 2 before and yet you want to defend this animal. Despite how well trained he is, he is still a wild and dangerous animal. One person getting killed is too many with any particular killer whale who has a history of doing this.

I am not a member of PETA or any animal rights organization but this killer whale does need to be killed. Those of you who applaud that this animal is back need to realize that it could happen again and you will be watching someone's death.

kpjb's avatar

Do you even know the circumstances of the other deaths?

In the first one, a trainer slipped and fell in to the tank with Tilikum and 2 pregnant whales. They had never had a human in the tank with them before.

In the second case, a homeless man hid in the park and jumped in the tank. He died of hypothermia.

I fail to see how those incidents indicate anything other than whales are big and people are small.


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