Tilikum weighs six tons, twice the size of the next largest whale in captivity in Orlando. SeaWorld allows no handlers in his tank, and only allow the most seasoned handlers to work with him at the edge of "the tank." Many experts say he is so large that any tank man can create is far too small for him. They also say no tank is large enough for a whale.
"We've proved in the past few years that putting people in solitary confinement makes them crazy. How can we expect anything different from marine animals?" said Edward O. Keith, an associate professor at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center.
SeaWorld is assembling a panel of experts to decide how best to handle Tilikum in light of this most recent "accident."
Really? I guess you don't even consider sterner measures when the perp is your tourist attraction's cash cow. But if this were a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Malamute, or German Shepherd who just killed their third victim, what do you think their fate would be? Well, let's face it, they would have never reached their third strike. The "authorities" would have taken the dog out after their first srike. And we've done the same dozens of times recently with rogue bears and cougars. We do it with humans too.
So, what now? If this was a human, we would never set him free. If it was a dog, we would have killed him back in 1991. We could slowly acclimatize him, and eventually set him free. That's worked with birds, but with whales...we haven't had much luck.
Incredibly, SeaWorld wants to keep him around. They have a deep pecuniary interest in keeping him performing. What are a few dead handlers compared to a magnificent revenue-generating marquee whale? Not much apparently.
Fly him back to Puget Sound and drop him near one of the local pods. It's sink or swim out there, and he'll make it, or he won't. But, SeaWorld, your status quo? It really isn't working. It's time to implement the Free Willy option. You've collected enough of your dollars, sheckels, and piastres. It's time to free Tilikum and let him enjoy whatever remains of his life.