Published by Beth Silvia.

In 2013, Tilikum, who was one of the more than 20 orcas then held captive at SeaWorld, reached celebrity status worldwide as the subject of the stunning documentary Blackfish. The stardom (his) and infamy (SeaWorld’s) that followed put an important spotlight on his sad life, and his recent death was the culmination of a miserable lifetime of confinement, making it all the more tragic. Celebrities from all fields—including actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians—took to social media to express their sadness over his captivity and death, and some said they were grateful that he’s finally free:

https://twitter.com/otepofficial/status/817405455530004480

https://twitter.com/JamesArthur23/status/817463992503468032

https://twitter.com/JoshUJWorld/status/817488544344211460

https://twitter.com/KalelKitten/status/817451167504441344

https://twitter.com/AustinAries/status/817424394456879105

Even in the years before Tilikum’s death, celebrities—propelled by Blackfish and his story—used their expansive reach on social media to echo the public’s growing sentiment that keeping orcas in captivity is reprehensible:

https://twitter.com/aaronpaul_8/status/494995653265989632

https://twitter.com/ArianaGrande/status/397073124208152577

View this post on Instagram

Two years ago I watched the movie #Blackfish and was appalled to learn what my gut already knew concerning whales (and dolphins) in captivity. @kevinancell and I decided to pay tribute to these beautiful creatures and protest their captivity by painting my quiver in the markings of #Orcas. Kevin shaded them with names of our friends who have since passed away. These boards and the stories of the people they symbolize will be on display at our art show, #ApoliticalProcess, in Venice Beach. The official opening of "Apolitical Process" is on Thursday, September 22 at Folding Table Gallery: 201 San Juan Ave (corner of Main St.), Venice, Ca 90291 from 7-10 PM and runs through October 9, 2016.

A post shared by Kelly Slater (@kellyslater) on

Compassionate people everywhere are pushing SeaWorld to begin the process of releasing the orcas it holds captive into coastal sanctuaries, where they could have some semblance of the natural life that the marine park has denied them.

Only in death is Tilikum finally free. But for the other orcas stuck in abusement parks, there’s still a chance for a happy ending. Use the link below to join us in pushing SeaWorld to do right by these long-suffering animals and release them into seaside sanctuaries—and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Let’s hope Tilikum’s death is the last for exploited orcas.

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