|AP: Tillicum with Dawn Brancheau, killed during a performance|
live twice as long as captive elephants. Certainly working elephants are not free, and their work is strenuous, but they still enjoy a relatively natural environment during their lives [photo: Getty Images]. Sea World says an orca's life expectancy in captivity is 47 years, comparable to wild female orcas, but some scientists say this figure is not accurate. They say their life expectancy is more on the order of 20-30 years. SeaWorld planned to build bigger tanks with features that might be attractive, but orcas are known to swim one hundred miles a day, and the bigger tank plans are on hold now that the breeding program has ended.
Tillicum lives on in his many offspring. He sired fourteen calves since he arrived at Sea World from a Canadian theme park in 1991. Tillicum was born off Iceland where he was caught and taken to Canada to begin his more than three decades of custody. He was a large male, weighing over eleven thousand pounds, and twenty-two feet in length. SeaWorld still owns 29 orcas, half of which are under age 15. May Tillicum's death be not in vain. Humans should look elsewhere to be entertained, and all captured orcas set free into sanctuaries, if necessary. Thank you so much, Tillicum.