It has been over one year since the death of the Tilikum the whale, yet the subject of Blackfish has remained an issue for animal advocacy groups seeking further details regarding the orca’s cause of death. The Animal Welfare Institute is now suing two federal agencies that backed SeaWorld’s refusal to release a full necropsy for Tilikum’s death.
The Animal Welfare Institute had submitted public record requests in their effort to obtain a full necropsy, requests which they say were ignored. Their lawsuit names the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service; both agencies supported SeaWorld’s claim that a full necropsy release was not legally required, and did not respond to information requests from the institute about their legal analysis.
Tilikum’s necropsy could provide valuable information on the whale’s health issues as well as information that affects other animals in captivity, according to the Animal Welfare Institute. The institute’s Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist, told the Orlando Sentinel last year, “What the bacteria was, where did it come from — its food, the water, the air and so on … all of that could and should be revealed by the necropsy report, just as it would be in an autopsy report on a human being — the forensics, if you will.”
SeaWorld did release Tilikum’s cause of death, bacterial pneumonia, which they claim is all that is legally required of them. They also stated that the whale’s remains will be used in over a dozen studies, which range from metabolic studies on caloric intake of orcas to whale genetics studies at the high school science fair level.
A federal spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Tilikum passed away on January 6th, 2017.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel