Tilikum, a famous killer whale that lived in captivity at SeaWorld in Orlando, has reportedly died.
According to NBC Chicago, officials at SeaWorld have confirmed Tilikum’s death but did not give an official cause. They will be performing a necropsy.
The company also stated that the orca had been experiencing serious health issues, including a bacterial lung infection.Tilikum was deemed responsible for three human deaths over three decades. The most recent incident occurred in 2010, when he pulled a trainer into his tank and drowned her.
Tilikum was subsequently the subject of a CNN documentary that NBC Chicago says “suggested SeaWorld’s treatment of captive orcas provoked violent behavior.”
Following the documentary’s release, SeaWorld reportedly struggled to perform well and ultimately announced it would be making changes to its policy on orcas.
Two notable changes the company announced in March of 2016 were the cessation of both its captive orca breeding program and theatrical shows involving orcas.
Activists have since attributed Tilikum with changing the conversation surrounding orca captivity.
SeaWorld estimates Tilikum was 36 years old when he died.
US Magazine says he first came into captivity when he was scooped up near Iceland in 1983. He first lived at Sealand in Canada but was moved to the United States in 1992 after he, along with 2 other whales, drowned a trainer there.
CNN says that was the first known time a killer whale had ever killed a human.