Orlando, Fla. — SeaWorld president and CEO Jim Atchison is about to be deluged with Valentine’s Day cards, but the messages they carry will be anything but adoring. That’s because peta2, PETA’s youth division, has called on its legion of members across the country to send Atchison valentines demanding that he show Tilikum some love by arranging for his transfer to a seaside sanctuary. Tilikum was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983 when he was only 2 years old and has been at SeaWorld since 1992. The cards read as follows:
“Trapped 24/7 in the equivalent of a concrete bathtub, Tilikum is stressed out, lonely, and denied everything that’s important to him. Please show Tilikum some ? and compassion by retiring him to a sanctuary in the sea, where he can live out his days in a more natural habitat and not be forced to perform.”
“For the past 20 years, Tilikum has been confined in a tank that to him is like a bathtub,” says peta2 Division Manager Marta Holmberg. “We hope the peta2 kids’ Valentine’s Day cards will touch Mr. Atchison’s heart and motivate him to relocate Tilikum before it’s too late.”
Tilikum’s life in captivity has been marked by misery, for both him and the families of the three people he has killed—including SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in February 2010—likely as a result of his stressful confinement. SeaWorld confines Tilikum—once a wild, oceangoing animal with almost limitless range and social interaction with his family—to a tiny concrete tank. For a year following Brancheau’s death, he was often held in a tank only a few feet longer than his body and was left to suffer in isolation and denied exercise and enrichment.
At least 25 orcas have died in U.S. SeaWorld facilities since 1986—not one died of old age.
For more information, please visit peta2.com.