Thursday 17 July 2014

Tilikum - the importance of a breeding bull!

Tilikum(easily identified with his flopped fin) Haida2 and Nootka4 at Sealand

Tim Zimmermann revealed documents today sent to Russ Rector after he persistently pursued them, refusing to let go and in July he received the papers he was looking for relating to Tilikums purchase by Seaworld from Sealand.

Tim's exclusive can be seen here

In addition to those documents which show the discussions between Brad Andrews and NOAA there were also other documents showing the Tilikum transactions and how Seaworld jumped ahead to block the way for Tilikums rehabilitation.

The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a temporary permit with many clauses, and also a telling off for both Sealand and Seaworld who were advising them at the time stating

''It is our understanding that , based on medical tests of the killer whales held at Sealand of the Pacific Ltd. in anticipation of Sea World's permit application, both Sea Land and and [sic] Sea World had at least two months advance knowledge of the imminent birth of at least one, and possibly two, killer whale calves. Sealand is responsible for these animals and should have taken steps to ensure that arrangements were made to hold the adult male killer whale, "Tillikum," at or nearby the Sealand facility or at another facility in Canada following such births. Sea World presumably has a significant interest in the well-being of these animals as well, and in the capacity of advising Sealand on their care, should have taken such steps even if Sealand had elected not to do so. Such temporary holding arrangements, whether they involved construction of temporary pens or other enclosures, should have been possible, at least for the few months necessary to consider and decide upon the permit application pending from Sea World for the import of these killer whales for public display. In this manner, the present need for an emergency permit authorization could have been prevented.''

One of the clauses said

''If a public display permit involving this animal is denied, under the terms of this agreement Sea World, Inc., is assuming the responsibility, including any associated costs, for the return of Tillikum to Canada and placement at a suitable facility to be identified by NMFS and the Canadian government, or, if no Canadian facility is available, for the return and release of Tillikum at the original location of capture.''

Brad Andrews obviously wasn't going to relinquish Tilikum that easily and he consequently contacted the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries, putting him in the picture as to what the permit said about retraining and releasing Tilikum back to the wild and also putting Seaworld's views forward -

'' Sea World believes a determination of the feasibility requires an analysis of
1) the likelihood that Tilikum will survive if released;
2) the possible impact of Tilikum's release on the fishing industry, since Tilikum was maintained in a net enclosure at Sealand and is accustomed to human beings and nets; and
 3) the potential impact of Tilikum's release on the marine environment.
The last mentioned determination would require an in-depth analysis of the incidence and distribution of disease and disease causing organisms in the fish and marine mammal populations in Icelandic and Canadian waters, as well as an analysis of any possible latent pathogens being carried by Tilikum.''

So now the Icelandic Minister had the threat of disease Tilikum may be carrying to think about too.

Brad Andrews carried on -
 ''While at Sealand, Tilikum was maintained in an ocean pen surrounded by a 500-boat marina and occasionally consumed fish native to the region. Even with a thorough examination of Tilikum, it is possible that the presence of some subclinical organisms not native to Icelandic waters might not be detected.

After considering the available information, Sea World believes it is not feasible to return Tilikum to Icelandic waters, primarily because Tilikum is not likely to survive once released. However, Sea World wishes to consult with the Government of Iceland and obtain its views on these matters, since any such release would be subject to the laws and jurisdiction of Iceland.''
The full letter can be seen  here 

Consequently on reviewing the information the Minister replied, stating

''This Ministry, with the concurrence of other interested Ministries, has concluded that the return of the killer whale, Tilikum, is not feasible. It is evident the animal may carry diseases that are both undetectable and alien to killer whales and other animal populations in Icelandic waters. Therefore, the return of the animal would entail unquantifiable and unavoidable risks, which we are not willing to accept''.

Critics of Seaworld looked at this as a deliberate attempt to block any return to Icelandic waters of any orca. and when interviewed they denied all knowledge, saying the permit required them to investigate returning Tilikum to Iceland. The evidence though proves differently.

For those who haven't seen a whale of a business, the documentary can be seen here and the interview with Jim McBain and Brad Andrews can be seen  at 40:00. In this part of the documentary you can see Brad Andrews say that they bought dolphins from the drive fisheries to ''save their lives''. How can anyone believe someone who says that.

Seaworld saw a proven breeding bull and 2 pregnant females at Sealand. Tilikum was moved first under the temporary permit stating he may be a threat to the baby Kyuquot . As Seaworld had bought the whole park to enable them to have the orca's, in 1993, Nootka 4, Haida 2 and Kyuquot followed Tilikum to Seaworld and the park was shut down.
On Feb 4th 1992 Nootka 4 gave birth to her calf a male at Seaworld.  After a few days he began to nurse and all seemed fine, but he died on March 10th due to infection.

Tilikums breeding career at Seaworld had begun - 

Nootka and Tilikum mated again and she was soon pregnant giving birth to her second calf on August 18th 1994. Sadly the calf was born dead. It was stated that Nootka was saddened by the loss but soon recovered.
This was not exactly true as on 13th September she died the cause of death - stillbirth complications. She was 13 years old.
Haida soon became the dominant orca at San Antonio amongst the young orcas and she was soon introduced to Kotar and became pregnant again.
On November 20th 1994 she gave birth again this time to a daughter. The calf was doing well and nursing properly but sadly on December 28th she showed signs of breathing problems and died. At a month old the cause of death was pneumonia.
On July 30th 2001 it was noted that Haida's behaviour had changed and she was put on 24 hour watch. Haida II passed away from a brain abscess on August 1, 2001. During a necropsy, a fetus was found. It is believed she was artificially inseminated.
Tilikum resides there still. 

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