Tilikum, a Bull Orca that was on display at SeaWorld Orlando, has passed away. The whale became famous for causing the death of a park trainer in 2010, and for its role in the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”
According to ABC News, park officials have confirmed that the whale died on Friday, but have not released a cause of death.
The company shared a statement commenting on the whale's declining health.
“Like older animals, Tilikum had faced some very serious health issues,” the statement reads. “While the official cause of death will not be determined until he necropsy is completed, the SeaWorld veterinarians and caretakers were treating a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection.”
Tilikum was captured in 1983 just off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland. He came to SeaWorld 25 years ago, after spending time at Sealand of the Pacific in Canada.
PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange released a statement from the organization on the whale's death:
"SeaWorld's announcement that it's ending its orca-breeding program came too late for Tilikum, who was bred 21 times—11 of his offspring dying before he did. From the moment he was taken from his ocean family, his life was tragic and filled with pain, as are the lives of the other animals who remain in SeaWorld's tanks and exhibits. Tilikum must be the last orca to die inside a SeaWorld amusement park. SeaWorld needs to release all the remaining animals from its parks—the orcas, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, walruses, penguins, and others—and rehabilitate them back into nature or into coastal sanctuaries where they can spend the rest of their lives in as natural a setting as possible, which, contrary to the company's greedy claims, is both reasonable and achievable."
The whale was an estimated 36 years old, putting him “near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales,” according to the SeaWorld statement.
Note: This story has been updated with comment from PETA.