PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am

Tilikum is an orca. Some aquariums in other countries have orcas, just like Ocean Park has dolphins. Tilikum lives at SeaWorld in Orlando in the United States. Tilikum made headlines last week when he killed his trainer.

What happened

Tilikum had just finished a show and his trainer Dawn Brancheau was playing with him. She lay down in a very shallow part of the pool. Tilikum grabbed her pony tail and pulled her into the water. He shook her around like a toy. She died.

Not the first

Tilikum has now been involved in three deaths. In the first one, he and two other orcas drowned a trainer. In the second one, no one is sure what happened. One morning, a dead man was found floating on Tilikum's back.

Kings of the ocean

The orca is also known as the killer whale. It is a kind of dolphin. Orcas normally only kill animals for food. They eat sea animals like seals, walruses and even other whales. But their favourite food is fish, such as salmon.

They are such big and strong animals that no other animals hunt them. A fully grown orca can be up to 8 metres long and weigh 4 tonnes or more. An orca can swim up to 90km/h. Being trapped in a pool is not good for orcas.

Sea smarts

Nobody is really certain how smart orcas are. They are fast learners. Mostly they use their skill to hunt.

They have learned to surf ashore and catch seals on the beach. They have also learned to vomit fish to lure birds they can eat.

The orcas at SeaWorld perform tricks to please the crowds.

Let's discuss...

What should happen to Tilikum

1 Tilikum has to be kept away from other animals and trainers. He was caught from the ocean, and now lives in a pool. Some people think he still poses a danger. Whatever happens, someone will have to feed him and clean his teeth. He might hurt them.

2 Perhaps he didn't mean to kill his trainer. Perhaps he was only playing. It seems like he's getting into trouble for something that may not have been his fault. His trainer should not have gone into the water with him.

3 Tilikum cannot be released into the wild. He has broken all his teeth. He needs to have a trainer to clean what is left of his teeth. If this does not happen he could get an infection and die.


February 24

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