Free Tilly

You may recall that in February this year, Tilikum – a killer whale (orca) at the SeaWorld park in Orlando, Florida – grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau by the waist from a poolside platform then dragged her underwater resulting in her tragic death.

Unfortunately, this was a tragedy just waiting to happen.

Tilikum – Tilly for short – was captured 25 years ago and has spent his life swimming in a tiny pool at SeaWorld.  In the wild, Tilly would have lived with thirty or more other whales and they might have roamed over a hundred miles each day.  Instead, each day, he swims around a tiny tank and performs the same tricks day after day to “entertain” people.  This is no way for a wild animal to live.

Tilly and the other whales at SeaWorld are paying a very high price to “entertain” people.   To try to put this in some context, consider:

  • an orca is estimated to pass through over 45 billion (thousand million) gallons of water in a 24 hour period – by comparison, a pool at a marine park  may be 1/9000th of this size ; and
  • marine park pools may be between 8m and 12.5m deep, however, in the wild a two-year old orca has been observed making three dives over 150m deep within an hour, reaching a maximum depth of 242m.
SeaWorld Killer Whale

Marine Mammals Should be in the Wild Not in Marine Parks for "Entertainment"

With scientific knowledge, patience and care, it is possible to rescue, rehabilitate and release orcas back into the wild.  This is one of the reasons why Animal Defenders International (ADI) has created the Free Tilly web site.

The Free Tilly web site helps raise awareness of the issues surrounding the keeping of marine mammals in captivity for entertainment and includes a pledge – “I pledge never to endorse the use of captive marine mammals in entertainment” – to sign.

David M. Davison

2 Comments to “Free Tilly”

  1. A female orca has died while giving birth at Sea World in Orlando. Her calf was fathered by Tilly and stillborn. WDCS research identifies complications during pregnancy as a major cause of premature death in captive orca females, while pregnancy-related complications are thought to be rare in the wild.

    David M. Davison

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