SeaWorld Stonewalls Over Release of Tilikum’s Necropsy

Consortium of Animal Rights Groups Demands Transparency, Public Accountability, Compliance With Permit Requirements

For Immediate Release:
August 8, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Orlando, Fla. – Today, PETA and other international animal advocacy organizations sent a letter to SeaWorld CEO Joel K. Manby demanding the release of Tilikum’s necropsy (or animal autopsy) and full clinical history results. These records are required under the terms of the orca’s import permit from 1992, which stated that SeaWorld must submit the information to the National Marine Fisheries Service upon his death. Tilikum—the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish—died in January of a reported bacterial lung infection after more than 30 years in captivity, but SeaWorld has yet to comply with this requirement.

The animal advocacy groups note that the permit’s conditions also apply to Tilikum’s progeny, including his granddaughter Kyara, who died of “suspected pneumonia” last month at only 3 months of age, and at least eight other offspring who are still alive and being used by SeaWorld.

“PETA is calling on SeaWorld to release Tilikum’s health information, which is not only required but also essential for assessing the ill effects of captivity on orcas,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “SeaWorld’s ticket sales are nosediving, and keeping these records secret will only cause the company to fall further out of favor.”

Forty orcas—including Kyara and Tilikum—have now died on SeaWorld’s watch, and the abusement park has been in free fall ever since the release of Blackfish. While orcas in the wild can travel up to 140 miles per day, orcas at SeaWorld are kept in tiny concrete tanks of chemically treated water, break and grind down their teeth and suffer from infections from gnawing on the pool gates and walls, and are given anti-anxiety drugs to manage stress-induced aggressive behavior.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” For more information, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind