ORLANDO, FL - The whale world is bracing itself for the loss of one of its own. The word from Sea World is, Tilikum, the killer whale, has a bacterial infection in his lungs. It's chronic and progressive. According to Sea World Veterinarian, Dr. Steve Gearhart, "At some point might cause his death."
This Orca is about 35-years-old and he's been the theme park's resident for the last 23. Despite being trainable, whales are unpredictable. Tilikum is blamed for a trainer's death in 2010, when he dragged her into the pool. Three years later, he was featured in "Blackfish," a documentary critical of whales in captivity.
Trainer Kelly Flaherty Clark says, "Every day that I'm here and every day that these amazing veterinarians are here, he will receive the best care."
Tilikum is taking antibiotics and anti-fungal meds, But his performing days are finished. Animal rights activists believe keeping killer whales in captivity only contributes to their mortality rates, which is higher than for those whales who swim free.
Don Anthony of Animal Rights Foundation of Florida believes Tilikum is dying and Sea World is trying to soften the blow by just making it sound like they are doing all they can.
No matter which side of the ocean you're on, losing a whale really blows!