An open letter to Tilikum

Note: Ethan Wolf’s (Sea Shepherd) open letter to Tilikum compelled me to write my own.  Thank you Ethan for the beautiful words. It is impossible to stay silent after reading them.

Dear Tilikum,

You are dying.  Your beautiful soul is preparing to leave this world and I want you to know, that your life has meant something to me.

I first saw you in  Blackfish.  Your story shocked me.  I could not understand how people could treat you like a plaything. Watching something so powerful and intelligent suffer at the hands of humans was so disturbing that all I could think of was how to change it.  I never figured that out, and obviously neither have all who have loved you from afar, but we still fight and will fight even harder in your memory when you are gone. I am so very sorry that you have had to live a life confined to tanks. If I had the power to give you the tiniest taste of freedom in your last days, I would.  How I wish I had that power.

People say that you will be better off dead, that you will be released from your suffering.  I can not think that is true.  Everything in me screams no at this statement.  It should never have come to this.  You have been a victim of the most outrageous ignorance and greed.  It makes me ashamed that we have allowed this to happen.

You stand in such stark contrast to those who have imprisoned you.  While they victimized you, you strove to live, devoid of everything natural to your species way of life, you fought for the will to keep going and you did.  You are a hero.  They…do not deserve our words.

I can not imagine the restraint you have had to show throughout your life – how easily you could have hurt more people and chose not to. I can not imagine what it did to your soul when you did hurt people, you who are one of a species who has never killed people in the wild.

This should not have been your fate but even after pleas from around the world to retire you to a sea sanctuary so that you could feel real waves against your skin, so that you could at last relive the life that orcas are born to live, Sea World chose to continue to exploit you, compassionless and so gravely underestimating the public’s ability to see the cruelty inherent in their actions.  You, now on the brink of death, we failed you.  I am so sorry. There are no words to express how sorry I am.

I want you to know that I see more then your suffering, in you I see the beauty of life, the beauty of all that should be wild and free.  You have taught me how to stand up for those without voices.  You have shown me what true compassion is and you have opened up the eyes of so many people who never knew that so many sentient beings are suffering at our hands.  We will learn the lessons you are meant to teach us and because of them we will build a better world.

I promise you, we will change this.  So many people will fight, your name always close to their lips.  We will never be able to make up for the life that was stolen from you, but we will use our sorrow to help those still in captivity and those beings who suffer at our hands,like in Taiji and in the Faroe Islands.

I hope when your heart beats it’s last beats that you feel us near you, surrounding you with comfort and love.  Your life means more then you can ever know.  Our tears are a testament for that.  Please forgive us for what we have done.  I dream of your freedom, today and always.


For those reading this, please do not support tourist activities that exploit animals for entertainment purposes.  We are better then that and these animals, they do not deserve the lives they are forced to live for the few minutes of ‘fun’ we gain from them.

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An Open Letter to the U.S. Travel Association – Please Stop Supporting Unethical Entertainment

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