2017 Letter Re: Retire L Pod Orca Lolita Tokitae To a Sea Pen In Her Home Waters

 

Thanks to the 70 people who signed letters at Fernfest June 17, 2017!  Over 8 years petitions and letters have been sent to

  • Arthur Hertz, former CEO of Wometco Enterprises
  • Andrew Hertz, Wometco Enterprises, General Manager of the Miami Seaquarium
  • Palace Entertainment (the Hertzes sold to Palace in 2014)
  • Parques Reunidos (HQ in Spain; owns Palace Entertainment)
  • Arle Capital (London, England; owns Parques Reunidos)

Candace Calloway Whiting has the “who owns Lolita Tokitae” history here.

Find out more about Lolita Tokitae on the Orca Network site.

Lolita Tokitae’s mom Ocean Sun (L 25, born 1928) still swims by this city with Lolita Tokitae’s family.

This year we are again writing to  Fernando Eiroa, who was moved up in the Parques Reunidos hierarchy and has moved from Newport Beach to Madrid last year.

If you missed us at Fernfest, here is this year’s letter for you to use. Each letter signed on the street or at a community event has been  sent by snail mail, hoping for a better impact. (Yes, that’s expensive but how could I look Lolita Tokitae in the eye and say “Sorry, the stamp was too expensive”?)

This is the first year in 8 years we will not  be on the street downtown today with letters and books and Orca Network  info (and beer tickets!) giveaways in front of the Irish Times pub (shout out to them for never asking me to move along – 2 hours beside their patio asking passersby to sign letters, book giveaways, info distribution). Please print and sign and send your letter to the owners of this officially substandard orca zoo. It’s well past time to retire Lolita Tokitae to a sea pen here in the San Juans

New documentary:

‘The Whale Bowl’ is a short documentary made by film students from Greenwich University in London, UK to help raise awareness about the plight of Lolita, the orca currently held at Miami Seaquarium.

 

Lolita Tokitae's prison cell

[Today’s date]

[Your address, physical address plus email  as you expect a reply]

Fernando Eiroa, CEO
PARQUES REUNIDOS SERVICIOS CENTRALES S.A
Paseo de la Castellana, 216. 16th floor
28046 Madrid. Spain

feiroa@palaceentertainment.com

Dear Mr. Eiroa and Palace Entertainment Officers and Board of Directors,

I am writing from the coast of Lolita’s home waters, from which she was taken as a baby August 8, 1970. As of August 8, 2017, she will have survived 47  years of captivity in the  Miami Seaquarium.

I request your active participation in allowing Lolita to be retired before she dies in your tank, and that she be returned to a sea pen in her home waters where her mother, Ocean Sun (L25) of L pod of the Southern Residents, still swims, along with Lolita’s extended family. There is a science based plan for her return and care in the “Lolita” section of OrcaNetwork.org. There is no significant risk to Lolita in any stage of Orca Network’s proposal for Lolita’s retirement in her home. Remaining in captivity will result in continuing and intensifying mental and physical stresses and related health issues.

It is a miracle that Lolita is still alive. All of the other 40+ members of her community who were captured and removed for display in theme parks before 1973 died by 1987, and yet Lolita somehow maintains her courage and her patience. She has endured the tragic suicide of her one-time companion Hugo (an orca also from her home waters, likely a relative with whom she could communicate; his tragic story here from Ric O’Barry) who bashed his head into the tank walls more than 30 years ago, in his teen years. She has been without the company of another orca for most of her years of performing at the Miami Seaquarium, although orcas are noted for their lifelong social and family connections.

When the Miami-Dade County Commission approved the sale of the Miami Seaquarium to Palace Entertainment, Commissioner Xavier Suarez asked, “Is there something that can be contemplated [to help Lolita]?” Commissioner Barbara Jordan asked, “Is there a retirement program for whales?”

The captive orca industry has lost credibility and stature over the last years. Public opinion has shifted to condemn confining cetaceans for human amusement and entertainment.

Parques Reunidos / Palace Entertainment has an opportunity to be on the right side of history by replacing cruel orca captivity with CGI / virtual reality encounters technology as a truly educational alternative. This decision would bring tremendous positive publicity. This is your chance to create a huge following of highly favourable public attention by providing assistance to help Lolita return home at long last, or to continue to find yourselves the object of increasing international disapprobation.

Lolita is middle aged by orca standards of longevity. Their life spans are very similar to ours. She could have many years of family connection. Please offer her the respect she deserves by playing a positive role in her much deserved retirement.

There are millions of people worldwide who would give great acclaim to Parques Reunidos and Palace Entertainment for supporting her retirement. I am one of them.

I’ve included my return address. Please reply and let me know what you are going to do to help get Lolita Tokitae home to the Salish Sea.

Sincerely,

[Your signature – please print your name as well.]

 

miami sq aerial orca network

 

“Save Lolita” PSA:  Underdog Entertainment.

 

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Do We Really Want To Be Orca Stalkers?

howard slide 1

Given the acoustic threats from shipping and Navy sonar, drastic reduction in the availability of Chinook salmon – the 78 remaining Southern Resident Killer Whales‘ preferred food –  and the continuing pollution of the Salish Sea, whale watching boats may be relatively the least harmful of all the threats the dwindling SRKWs face. But still, that doesn’t mean “no effects“. Isn’t it time we backed off and gave this endangered group of highly intelligent family bonded sea beings their lives back, and stopped stalking them every day we can find them?

Hakai Magazine, “On the Trail of Whales”, May 24, 2016:

Whale watching as a boat-based business dates to California, circa 1955, in the waters around San Diego, when a fishing boat skipper charged a buck per person to anyone wishing to see gray whales. Today, the whale watching industry is worth an estimated US $2.1-billion worldwide. In some countries, the industry polices itself, adhering (or not) to voluntary guidelines; in others, the government has regulations, though enforcement is spotty. Regulations govern certain actions, such as how close to whales a boat can operate: in the United States, it’s 183 meters (200 yards); Canada only has a guideline of 100 meters. Engine noise has scientists and whale lovers worried. There is no question about the negative short-term effects of noise pollution on whales and other cetaceans, including dolphins and porpoises, that communicate via underwater sound waves. The long-term effects of this bedlam below the waves, however, are a little fuzzier. Imagine living most of your day being followed by an out-of-tune mariachi band: a bit weird and kind of fun at first, but then annoying and, ultimately, nerve-[w]racking.

Published in the Times Colonist, Victoria, June 18, 2017:

The Editor, Times-Colonist:

June is Orca Month in Washington State, Oregon, BC and the City of Victoria. It’s time to consider some next steps in coexistence with orcas, the “minds in the waters”. From a possible population high of 98 in 1995 or possibly higher in periods before they could be accurately identified and counted (thanks to Dr. Michael Bigg) , the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs) RKWs are now listed as “endangered” by the Canadian Species at Risk Registry and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The population now totals 78, with 24 in J Pod, 19 in K Pod, and 35 in L Pod.

We now know that orcas are family bonded, cognitively, culturally and  linguistically complex and are self-aware.  Their brains have structures for emotional learning that we do not have, and extensive acoustic and cognitive structures we do not fully understand. We know that SRKW pods swim up  to 156 km daily  in the Salish Sea and coastal waters of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Early captives taken from the wild and confined in marine zoos paid for what we learned from them with their lives, and their families and extended clan groups paid with failing viability of the population. (Local L pod orca Lolita Tokitae is the last living SRKW wild captive, held  since 1970 in the smallest tank in North America, the substandard Miami Seaquarium. ) We now may be watching extinction at work, due to increasing acoustic assaults, dwindling food supply and toxins discharged into their home.

Massive declines in salmon populations over the past 100 years have made it harder for the orcas to find food. Bodies of the males qualify as toxic waste, as they do not offload toxins in milk while nursing babies. Increasing ocean noise makes it harder for orcas to communicate with each other and to find food.

The remaining 78 SRKWs are surrounded by buzzing boats any time they can be found. Can anyone say “watching” them during every daylight hour as often as their location can be determined for every day of their lives in the “whale watching season”, April to October, is helping them?  Put yourself in the orcas’  place. It’s as if you had neighbours who never turned off the leaf blower, lawn mower, or the loud music. Studies have shown behavioural changes in response to both noise and the presence of boats.

One  next step in supporting the Southern Residents’ struggle to regain population viability is a retreat from entertaining ourselves by  chasing and stressing individuals of this endangered population in the wild. We now have the technology – underwater cameras and hydrophones– to see and hear them while allowing them the dignity of living their lives free from our desire to be entertained by them as they simply try to survive. Occasionally we can see orcas from a ferry. They can be seen from land, and organizations like The Whale Trail have identified likely spotting places.  It is time to allow accredited researchers only to have access to boat-based “whale watching” , and time to stop exploiting an endangered population as a commercial tourist attraction.

Diane McNally has followed orca research since 1968, and organizes annual  City of Victoria Orca Month events.

June 3/17: Book Display for Orca Month Greater Victoria Public Library

Proclamation 2017

Thank you to Mayor Lisa Helps and Victoria City Council for the Second Proclamation of Orca Month in the City of Victoria!

 

20170603_123551

Thank you to the Greater Victoria Public Library, Main Branch, for the space to set up the display! That is a Chinook salmon tail – Chinook is the SRKW’s favourite  food –  behind the books.

2017 06 03 Display top shelf

Beneath the Surface: John Hargrove, 2015

Orca, the Whale Called Killer: Erich Hoyt, 1981

Into Great Silence: Eva Saulitis, 2013

Death at Sea World: David Kirby, 2012

Killer Whales: John Ford, Graeme Ellis, Ken Balcomb, 1994

2017 06 03 Display mid shelf

Proclamation, Province of British Columbia, and City of Victoria

Orcas In Our Midst III: Howard Garrett, 2011

Spyhop photo credit: Alexandra Morton

Listening to Whales: Alexandra Morton, 2002

Three Brothers photo credit: Maria Chantelle Tucker (Peronino)

Marine Mammals of the Pacific Northwest: Pieter Folkens, 2001

Retire Lolita!

2017 06 03 Display mid shelf 2

Orca Chief: Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd, 2015

Canadian Mint,  Orca coin package, 2011

Canadian Geographic : Bruce Obee, 1992

Orca shirt: Orca Network, The Orca Project, Voice of the Orcas websites

 

2017 06 03 Display bottom shelf

Granny’s Clan: Dr. Sally Hodson, 2012

Orca temporary tattoo: Roger Purdue

Fragile Waters: 2014

Orcas In Our Midst II: Howard Garrett, 2004

Orca card: Sue Coccia

Orca design sweater: Cowichan knitters, 1994

 

 

2017 06 03 Display List To Whales

L pod orca Lolita Tokitae has been captive in a substandard tank since 1970. This, below, is her prison where she lives, instead of her ocean home, with her family and mother Ocean Sun, about 85,  who still swims by Victoria BC, and throughout  the family’s territory.  Come to FernFest June 17, and sign an individual letter to Miami Seaquarium, asking them – again – to do the right thing and let Lolita Tokitae return to her home waters in a sea pen, cared for by humans for as long as she wants that.

 

Lolita MSQ tank

Lolita Tokitae’s prison, Miami

 

June 2017 Second Annual Orca Month Proclamation City of Victoria

Mayor Helps and City Councillors:

Good evening! My name is Diane McNally.  I’m here  to ask you to consider proclaiming June 2017 as Orca Month in the City of Victoria, for the second year. The Attorney-General has made a second  proclamation of June as Orca Awareness Month in British Columbia, and Orca Month is in its 11th year in Washington State.

Orca Month in Victoria will help raise awareness of the fact that, even though orcas’ intelligence equals ours, and they are the apex predator in these waters, carrying complex 3D mental maps of vast territories, they need protection – from us.

Last year when I presented to you, there were 83 Southern Residents. Since last June, J, K and L pods, lost 5 members: J28 Polaris, a young mother missing October 2016, age  23; her 10 month old baby  J54 Dipper, missing October  2016; J34 Doublestuf,  an 18 year old male found dead of blunt force trauma off the Sunshine Coast December 20, and the iconic J2  Granny, leader and matriarch of the clan declared missing, January 2017 at about 105.

There are now 78 free members in this matrilineal clan (79 if we count L pod orca Lolita Tokitae, captive in the Miami Seaquarium since 1970).

msq

 

The Southern Residents  were listed as an endangered species in 2005   by US Fish and Wildlife, and in 2008 listed as  endangered by the Canadian Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

In addition to the Southern Residents, the  most studied orca group in the world, who range from central California to Haida Gwaii in the winter and who spend summer and fall here, there are 3 other  main groups of orcas who live in and visit the Salish Sea.

Northern Residents are  fish eaters, and number about 250. Their   status is “threatened”. They range in matrilineal  groups from South East Alaska to Washington State.

Transients, or Bigg’s orcas – named in memory of the late orca researcher Michael Bigg – range from California to Alaska in small matrilineal groups.  They eat sea mammals including other cetaceans and are increasingly common around Victoria.

Offshores, perhaps 250 of them,   range from California to Alaska in open waterand are believed to eat fish and sharks. They travel in large groups but you will rarely see them.

Local orcas were often shot on sight in the 1950s. After the 1964 Vancouver Aquarium harpooning of a young male from J pod, misnamed Moby Doll,  and his subsequently  demonstrated gentle nature and obvious intelligence whilebriefly exhibited in a sea pen in Vancouver before dying , a commercial capture began which came to a legislated end in the Pacific Northwest in 1976 as a result of public outcry.

The orca families have never recovered, and they now face other threats.

We take huge numbers of their preferred food, Chinook salmon, and have  dammed Chinook spawning rivers. Ever increasing marine noise from ships and boats interferes with their echolocation and communication. Male Southern Residents  and Transients’ bodies are designated toxic waste at death because of the pollutant load. Baby orcas often die before reaching 1 year  of age, as a result of the toxin offload in their mothers’ milk.

Extinction of this ancient lineage looms.

What can we do? We can:

  • Support wild salmon stream and river  restoration
  • Demand more stringent limits on pollutant discharge and runoff into the Salish Sea
  • Call for continual improvement of  guidelines for boat and ship activity and noise
  • Demand effective plans for action to contain and prevent oil spills and act to prevent scenarios that increase their likelihood
  • Continue cross-border coordination for monitoring, research, and enforcement

Information  about Orca Month events on the City of Victoria is on the Orca Month BC facebook page, and OrcaMonth Internatnl @OrcaMonthIntnat on Twitter. 

Thank you for considering proclamation of June as  Orca Month in the City of Victoria .

srkws cwr

Photo credit Center for Whale Research

 

 

 

 

 

Orca Menopause: The Role of Wise Elders

granny-and-ruffles-active-pass-aug-31-09-k-cullen

Granny and Ruffles, Active Pass Aug 31/09: photo K. Cullen

January 7, 2016
The Editor, Times-Colonist:

An article in the January 7, 2016 Times Colonist  about the death in captivity of Tilikum, an Icelandic orca who was captive in Sea World Orlando and formerly captive in the now defunct SeaLand of the Pacific in Oak Bay, refer  to the incorrect “ponytail grab” version of events when Tilikum killed Orlando orca trainer Dawn Brancheau.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/infamous-orca-tilikum-dies-in-florida-1.6550099

That was SeaWorld’s initial version of events, a version that blamed Dawn for carelessness, and which has been proven by video footage not to be what happened.

Tilikum took Dawn Brancheau by the arm. He wasn’t playing with her ponytail. Orca intelligence is undisputed. The “ponytail version” undermines Brancheau’s status, undermines Tilikum’s decision making and is an effort to ignore his rage.  Tilikum knew what he was doing. He savaged her body and left her whistle at the bottom of the pool – the whistle, the symbol of control. Video (“Slow Motion Footage of Dawn With Tilikum Seconds Before”) can be found on The Orca Project blog, April 20, 2011 post “SeaWorld Trainer Death Theory Debunked as a Ponytail Tale”.

As a related thought, I hope soon “anthropomorphism” will be universally seen for what it is – a human delusion that any individual of another species who demonstrates intelligence, thought, planning, decision making, will, and emotion is “aww, kind of  like us”.

Post- “Blackfish”, people will know that orcas and cetaceans are “the minds in the waters”, and that orca and cetacean captivity is an atrocity.

One of the  Southern Residents, Lolita Tokitae of L pod, taken from her family  in August 1970,  languishes  in the officially substandard Miami Seaquarium. Will she be next to die alone in a concrete box? / ~DM

January 15, 2016
The Editor, Times-Colonist:

Wait a minute. Menopausal orcas are “relegated”  to adopting roles as wise elders (Times-Colonist January 15, Competition may have role in orca menopause”)?

The meaning of relegate is “consign or dismiss to an inferior rank or position”, which hardly describes the function and role of a wise  elder.

I’m a member of another species that features menopause in  older females, and as one, let me share my relief in not being pregnant and bearing children for my entire life, not washing diapers my entire life ( I know, orcas have that part easier), not breastfeeding and eating enough to do that my entire life,  not sorting out toddler squabbles my entire life and not caring that males don’t think I’m – family newspaper so I’ll soft-pedal this – a candidate for participation in species continuation via reproductive activities .

This entire article is written as factual statements until it’s all dismissed as pure conjecture in the third from last paragraph in which the main researcher in the study it’s based on is quoted as saying  “We simply don’t know what the menopause is for in these animals.”

Everyone who isn’t an orca in this article is a male writer or researcher. Let a  female tell you what menopause is for. It’s for  females to take on roles as leaders and as wise elders and  to provide support to their families and to society with a long term view and broad experience and perspective.  This can’t in any way be considered “relegation” unless Prof. Darren  Croft (the lead researcher) thinks that reproduction- based competition for male attention and subsequently eating enough food to breast feed (yes, orcas breast feed) are the pinnacles of female life on the land and in the sea. / ~DM (Original article published in Times Colonist below the Psychology Today excerpt.)

 

Psychology Today, January 15, 2017, G.A. Bradshaw (some quotes fro Howard Garrett of Orca Network in the article):

Subsequently, from this moral neuropsychological and cultural perspective, the “mother-daughter conflict” hypothesis of Orca menopause seems highly implausible. While it characterizes western human culture, values, and even academic institutions, competitive, “dog-eat-dog” behavior has no place in the restrained, refined prosocial world of Orcinus orca. These Whales are not passive victims of “my genes made me do it.” Rather, Orcas exhibit highly emotional and social intelligence with brains, minds, and morals that exceed those of modern humans.

 

[Times Colonist January 17 link to article below unavailable; use Press Progress / log in.]

Darren Croft makes lots of definitive statements but then says “We simply don’t know what the menopause is for these animals,” said Croft. “The physiological and behavioural consequences of that, we’re not quite clear because we’re not able to ask them.”

January 17, 2016 Times Colonist: Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press VICTORIA — Mother-daughter conflicts rooted in a tug-of-war between competition and cooperation are helping explain why killer whales go through menopause, says a study released Thursday.

Killer whales are one of only three species, including humans, who go through menopause. The animals often live for decades after giving birth to their final calves and are relegated to adopting roles for their pods as grandmothers and wise elders who know where to search for food.

Prof. Darren Croft of the University of Exeter in England led the new study, which used 43 years of data gathered by whale researchers at Canada’s Department and Fisheries and Oceans on the West Coast and the Center for Whale Research in the United States at Friday Harbor, Washington. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Croft, who has spent time in the Salish Sea on both sides of the border near Vancouver Island observing the animals, said scientists have long considered why killer whales who stop having calves in their 30s and 40s have lifespans into their 80s, 90s and beyond. Researchers wondered what prevents the whales from continuing to reproduce during their lifespans.

“It turns out to be a conflict between mothers and daughters,” said Croft in a telephone interview Exeter. “The younger females are under stronger selection to basically invest more in competition, to pull harder in a game of tug-of-war with their mothers, in order to be able to reproduce and to take more fish and share less.”

He said the study concluded older female whales go through menopause because they lose out in the reproductive competition with their daughters. It found when mother and daughter killer whales breed at the same time, the death rate of offspring born to older mothers is almost twice that of young mothers.

Much of the reproductive conflict between mothers and their daughters stems from their reliance on food sharing, he said. The whales hunt together, sharing salmon, and often rely on their mothers for food for years, Croft said.

“We don’t yet know how this competition and conflict unfolds in the family,” he said. “It’s likely that these old females are more likely to be sharing the food in the group, whereas the young females, we would predict, would be eating more for themselves.”

Croft said the research was based on observations of the southern and northern resident killer whale populations in waters off Vancouver Island and the U.S. The southern resident population is about 78 whales and there are between 200 and 250 northern residents.

“This prediction has been in the literature now for six or seven years, that conflict might be important and this is the first test outside of humans that that’s actually going on,” Croft said.

He said the researchers know the whales stop reproducing at some later point in their lives, but little else is known about menopause, including the change it might have on the lives of older females.

“We simply don’t know what the menopause is for these animals,” said Croft. “The physiological and behavioural consequences of that, we’re not quite clear because we’re not able to ask them.”

He said the researchers observed a southern resident whale nicknamed Granny, who died late last year at an age estimated up to 105 years.

“Granny, I think, is perhaps the most iconic whale in that population,” Croft said. “She was always in the lead of her family group and that’s where some of these ideas and hypotheses around these old females being leaders came from.”

tilikum-med-pool

Tilikum spent a lot of time in isolation pool SeaWorld Orlando. Photo via Colleen  Gorman.

 

January 7, 2017

The Editor, Times-Colonist: [not published]

Two articles in the January 7, 2016 Times Colonist  about the death in captivity of Tilikum, an Icelandic orca who was captive in Sea World Orlando and formerly captive in the now defunct SeaLand of the Pacific in Oak Bay, refer  to the incorrect “ponytail grab” version of events when Tilikum killed Orlando orca trainer Dawn Brancheau.  That was SeaWorld’s initial version of events, a version that blamed Dawn for carelessness, and which has been proven by video footage not to be what happened.

Tilikum took Dawn Brancheau by the arm. He wasn’t playing with her ponytail. Orca intelligence is undisputed. The “ponytail version” undermines Brancheau’s status, undermines Tilikum’s decision making and is an effort to ignore his rage.  Tilikum knew what he was doing. He savaged her body and left her whistle at the bottom of the pool – the whistle, the symbol of control. Video (“Slow Motion Footage of Dawn With Tilikum Seconds Before”) can be found on The Orca Project blog, April 20, 2011 post “SeaWorld Trainer Death Theory Debunked as a Ponytail Tale”.

As a related thought, I hope soon “anthropomorphism” will be universally seen for what it is – a human delusion that any individual of another species who demonstrates intelligence, thought, planning, decision making, will, and emotion is “aww, kind of  like us”.

Post- “Blackfish”, people will know that orcas and cetaceans are “the minds in the waters”, and that orca and cetacean captivity is an atrocity.

One of the  Southern Residents, Lolita Tokitae of L pod, taken from her family  in August 1970,  languishes  in the officially substandard Miami Seaquarium. Will she be next to die alone in a concrete box?

Tilikum: The Long Horror Is Over. RIP.

tilikum

Tilikum, a life stolen. Photo by Colleen Gorman,  Tilikum’s angel on earth.

 

Page will be updated as news comes in.

Six SRKW deaths, young and old, in 2016.This fragile endangered population cannot withstand this kind of disaster. There are as of January 6, 2016  78 SRKWs left, from an historic possible high of 200 before Pacific Northwest wild captures decimated the family groups.

Just a few days ago, the announcement that Granny, Southern Resident matriarch, leader, historian, is presumed dead at about 104, not having been seen since October 2016. Now Tilikum, wild caught in Iceland, not a Southern Resident, but so well known all over the world as a result of activists’ work (eg Colleen Gorman of The Orca Project), and Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Blackfish“.  

http://www.whaleresearch.com/single-post/2017/01/05/Goodbye-Granny

“When he was no more than a two-year-old baby, Tilikum was ripped from his ocean home off the coast of Iceland in November 1983. He would never see his family, feel the sea water on his skin or experience freedom again. Instead, he was sold to the highest bidder. “

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/tilikum-orca-seaworld-blackfish-dead-confinement-peta-a7515721.html

“Isolated by himself in a tank smaller than the average backyard pool where he could barely move or turn, much less swim, Tilikum was used as an involuntary sperm donor in SeaWorld’s artificial-insemination breeding program, to make more little orcas to entertain tourists. I won’t even go into the degrading details of how that was carried out. To his captors he was a commodity, not a sentient being.”

.

collecting-semen-from-a-killer-whale-at-seaworld

Degrading details have been documented. Interspecies sexual abuse at SeaWorld.Orcas trained from adolescenceto accept hand jobs.

http://www.chicagonow.com/friendly-curmudgeon/2017/01/the-sad-life-of-killer-whale-tilikum-should-be-a-lesson/

Howard Garrett of Whidbey Island-based Orca Network (Garrett appeared in Blackfish):“He led a terrible tragic life in that tiny little metal cage in Victoria … then at Sea World he was isolated and tormented by some of the dominant females the entire time he was in captivity,” he said. ” He was bored out of his gourd. I can’t believe he could live that way. There’s nothing around. It has concrete walls. It’s like living in a hall of mirrors with nothing to do but float listless. How bored could he have been? With a brain four times the size of ours that is constantly processing, but nothing to process. How did he even survive that long?” Garrett said that such conditions are conducive to creating psychosis in orcas. Especially since they are not evolved to be in such conditions.

http://mynorthwest.com/505906/tilikum-orca-dies/

Paul Spong, founder of the OrcaLab research station on northern Vancouver Island, followed Tilikum’s life: “In a way it comes as a relief. Tilikum has been in captivity for such a long time,” he said. “His life, I would characterize it as a total misery in many ways….He was kept right at the beginning in terrible circumstances in a tiny pool while his captors tried to sell him,” Spong said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/tilikum-the-orca-featured-in-blackfish-doc-and-blamed-for-deaths-of-3-people-has-died-1.3924223

Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite on Friday mourned the loss of SeaWorld’s Tilikum, a killer whale who she said died a “martyr.”

<i>Blackfish</i> Director Calls SeaWorld’s Killer Whale Tilikum a ‘Martyr’

Sandra Pollard for World Cetacean Alliance:

http://worldcetaceanalliance.org/2017/01/07/tribute-to-tilikum/

#IAmTilikum #FinallyFree (video below made when Tilikum’s health started to fail)

Colleen Gorman and John Kielty’s The Orca Project (started it all):

https://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/

The news, when it finally came, was not a surprise but it still stung. On January 6th, 2017, Sea World announced that Tilikum, the dark star of the 2013 ground-breaking documentary Blackfish, had died.

http://uk.whales.org/blog/2016/03/tilikum-death-of-dark-star

The “Blackfish” documentary argued that killer whales, when in captivity, become more aggressive toward humans and each other. After the documentary played at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on CNN, several entertainers pulled out of planned performances at SeaWorld parks and animal rights activists increased their demonstrations outside the parks.

SeaWorld: Tilikum, orca that killed trainer, has died

Candace Calloway Whiting: “His iconic life represented all that was wrong about keeping these majestic whales in tanks. Rest in peace, Tilikum.”

http://blog.seattlepi.com/candacewhiting/2017/01/06/tilikum-the-whale-made-famous-in-the-film-blackfish-has-died-at-seaworld/

Tilikum was a wild-caught orca taken from his family in Icelandic waters when he was just two years old and he’s spent the last 34 years confined. Read about his tragic life in captivity.

http://uk.whales.org/news/2017/01/seaworld-announces-death-of-tilikum

Film-maker Gabriela Cowperthwaite then created a documentary about the treatment of orcas in captivity. The film, Blackfish, alleged attempted coverups of orca attacks on humans, which it said were caused by the conditions of captivity causing psychosis in the animals.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/06/blackfish-killer-whale-tilikum-dies-seaworld-orcas-film

John Hargrove, former SeaWorld orca trainer (appears in Blackfish): “He lived a tortured existence in captivity. I think all the whales do, but if you had to pinpoint one of them, hands down I would say Tilikum.

“Tilikum’s life was so incredibly tragic. He lived a horrible life, he caused unspeakable pain, so at least his chapter is over,” Cowperthaite said.
“Tilikum lived longer than almost any other captive male orca has, but his life was one of deprivation and difficulty,” Animal Welfare Institute marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose said in a news release. “It is long since time for SeaWorld to begin serious consideration of retiring all of its orcas to seaside sanctuaries. Forcing these large, intelligent, socially complex animals to live out their sometimes decades-long lives in barren concrete tanks must end.”
Tilikum’s death is significant — his life, even more so. Over the past three decades, Tilikum has grown to become arguably the most famous animal in the world. Torn from his mother’s side off the coast of Iceland in 1983, he came to symbolize everything that was wrong with captivity.
Cowperthwaite said she hopes Tilikum’s life and death will sway the marine park to finally release all of its animals into the wild or into coastal sanctuaries. “His purpose in some way was hopefully to turn his tragic life into a lesson,” she said. “He can truly be an ambassador for what’s wrong with having animals in captivity.”

Steve Huxter (former orca trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in Oak Bay, near Victoria BC, where Tilikum was transferred after capture in Icelandic waters, taken from his mother at two years of age)  remembers Tilikum as gentle and eager to interact:

http://www.cheknews.ca/tilikum-killer-whale-held-oak-bay-died-seaworld-253261/

SeaWorld has announced that Tilikum, a killer whale with a troubled local past, died Friday morning.

http://www.iheartradio.ca/cfax-1070/news/seaworld-says-tilikum-a-killer-whale-with-a-troubled-local-past-died-friday-morning-1.2313274

Steve Huxter, former orca trainer (includes video of orca aggression from various orcas in captivity) remembers Tilikum :

http://globalnews.ca/video/3166395/tilikum-the-killer-whale-dies-in-florida

goodbye-tillikum

My students and I say goodbye to Tilikum, sold and moved at midnight 1992

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