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Tilikum and Whale Captivity

            He has entertained many audiences with his amazing tricks. He has inspired hundreds to work with marine animals. He has helped change the world's view of whales. He has killed three people. Tilikum is a male Orca, more commonly referred to as a killer whale, with a complex background. In 1983 Tilikum was violently captured in Iceland and then illegally sold to 'Sealand of the Pacific' aquarium in Canada. He was two years old when this happened, ripped away from his family and cruelly sent to foreign waters. .
             In the wild, Tilikum was used to swimming over 100 miles every day; in 'Sealand of the Pacific' Tilikum was used to floating in a concrete prison only ten feet longer than his body. When Tilikum was not confined in these small spaces, he was taken into a pool where he would perform tricks for audiences in order for him to receive food. The food was frozen fish which deprived the Orca of his necessary nutrients and food was withheld from Tilikum if he did not respond to the trainers' instructions. Tilikum was a highly intelligent whale and due to this he seems to have noticed his mistreatment. Tilikum began to become restless, frustrated with being trapped in a concrete box and performing tricks for slivers of food. The trainers registered Tilikum's agitation but they did not see it as being significant. It was too late when Sealand of the Pacific finally realised that Tilikum's emotions were important. .
             In February of 1991, a part-time trainer at Sealand fell into the pool whilst Tilikum was performing with two female Orcas. Tilikum, along with the other whales, began to drag Keltie Byrne under the water by gripping her legs with their teeth. The horrified audience watched as the other trainers responded to Keltie's screams. Keltie surfaced three times before finally drowning. It was said that Tilikum was the ringleader of this attack. People claimed that we could never know what these whales were thinking, we could never know when Tilikum would attack next.

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