Samantha Ellis, Global Animal

Tilikum preforming at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Gerardo Mora

SeaWorld Orlando orca Tilikum, famous for killing trainer Dawn Brancheau, was placed in a medical treatment tank earlier this week. A SeaWorld officials stated that “Trainers noted a change in Tilikum’s behavior this past week. Tilikum was moved into the medical pool so they and the veterinary staff could closely monitor his progress.”

Although SeaWorld refuses to disclose what is wrong with Tilikum, they have stated that he showed signs of improvement on Thursday. The zoological staff will continue to monitor and administer veterinary care to Tilikum.

Tilikum was captured from the wild in 1983, when he was only two years old. After enduring food deprivation as a form of training, bullying from the other killer whales, and living in a tank barely big enough to hold him and the other two whales at Sealand in Canada, he was moved to SeaWorld Orlando in 1992. While Tilikum recieved better treatment at SeaWorld, his world, which once encompassed the entire ocean, is restricted to a small tank.

Tilikum is responsible for the death of two trainers, and is connected to the death of a man who jumped into his tank. After the death of Dawn, Tilikum was isolated, placing further stress on the whale, for Orcas, like other whales and dolphins, are very social creatures.  After all the stress and psychological damage from capture, confinement, and finally isolation, it’s no wonder Tilikum acts out. Perhaps this illness is his latest cry for freedom.

More about orcas and SeaWorld:

Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Speaks Out: Rules Broken Before Attack

Sadly, This Is No Surprise: Killer Whale Dies Prematurely At Sea World

Killer Whale Dies Suddenly At SeaWorld Orlando

Pens and Pools: The Problem With Prisons For Cetaceans

Deaths At SeaWorld May Soon Include Its Own