Placing an animal in surroundings that are unsuitable for the species can cause stress and behavioural problems. Wild animals kept in an improper environment or fed the wrong diet can suffer, resulting in illness or death.
In some environments, it is best not to keep certain wild animals at all, as their needs can not be met – particularly if the animal is for entertainment. Your voice is needed, so that captive wild animals are better protected.
With increased Awareness about the cruelty involved with keeping wild animals in captivity, more and more jurisdictions are enacting legal protections. These laws help the animals and also people, since wild animals in captivity present a serious public safety risk.
Tilikum was a captive orca, who spent most of his life performing at Sea World Orlando. He was captured in Iceland in 1983 near Reykjavík.
About a year later, he was transferred to Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia. He was subsequently transferred in 1992 to Sea World Orlando. He sired 21 calves, of which ten are still alive.
Tilikum was heavily featured in the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which claims that orcas in captivity suffer psychological damage and become unnaturally aggressive. Tilikum was involved in the deaths of three people: Keltie Byrne – Daniel Dukes – Dawn Brancheau.
On February 20th, 1991, Keltie Byrne, a 21-year-old marine biology student and competitive swimmer, slipped and fell into the pool containing Tilikum, Haida and Nootka while working as a part-time Sealand of the Pacific trainer.
The three orcas submerged her, dragging her around the pool and preventing her from surfacing.
At one point, she reached the side and tried to climb out, but the orcas pulled her back into the pool. Other trainers threw her a life-ring, but the orcas kept her away from it, ignoring trainer’s recall commands.
She surfaced three times before drowning, and it was several hours before her body could be recovered from the pool.
On July 6th, 1999, 27-year-old Daniel P. Dukes, was found dead over Tilikum’s back in his sleeping pool. Dukes had visited Sea World the previous day, stayed after the park closed, and evaded security to enter the orca tank unclothed.
An autopsy found numerous wounds, contusions, and abrasions covering his body that were allegedly caused by Tilikum.
Despite numerous cameras around and inside the pool, that are supposed to monitor orca’s wellbeing, Sea World claims the event was not captured. The autopsy concluded that Dukes’ cause of death was drowning. The medical examiner reports that no drugs or alcohol were found in Dukes’ system.
On February 24th, 2010, Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer. Brancheau was killed following a Dine with Shamu show.
The veteran trainer was rubbing Tilikum as part of a post-show routine when the orca grabbed her by her ponytail and pulled her into the water. The autopsy indicated death by drowning and blunt force trauma.
On January 6, 2017, Sea World announced that Tilikum had died early in the morning. The cause of death was bacterial infection.