Of course, according to SeaWorld, Tilikum is better off in his tiny captive tank than he would have been if he'd never been captured. "If Tilikum would have shown up with this disease in the wild, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd have been gone a long time ago," Dr. Scott Gearhart, a veterinarian with SeaWorld, says.
Whatever the cause, Tilikum's health isn't looking good. "I wish I could say I was tremendously optimistic about Tilikum and his future," Gearhart says, tearing up. "But he has a disease which is chronic and progressive and at some point might cause his death. We have not found a cure for this disease at this point."
According to SeaWorld, Tilikum has been receiving top-notch veterinary care. "[With] the ups and downs of the life that we've been living with him, it's been our duty to make sure that we give him the utmost care that we possibly can," Richardville says.
But that's not how those outside SeaWorld's inner circle see it. "What is happening to Tili right now is so sad and unnecessary," Gommersall, the former SeaWorld trainer, wrote on Facebook. "Yet they still spew lies."