Seaworld announces one of its best known orcas, Tilikum, has died

Tilikum as "Shamu" at SeaWorld - Photo: Milan Boers / CC BY 2.0

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Seaworld announced one of its best known orcas, Tilikum, has died.

In a statement the company said the orca died early Friday morning surrounded by trainers, care staff and veterinarians.

The company did not announce the official cause of death, pending necropsy.

But officials said veterinarians were treating a quote "persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection."

Tilikum was estimated to be about 36 years old which the company says is on the high end of average life expectancy for male killer whales.

Sea World came under scrutiny after Tilikum pulled a trainer into his tank and killed her back in 2010.

The scrutiny increased after the documentary "BLACKFISH" highlighted Tilikum's life in captivity.

Last March the company announced they would no longer breed orcas making the whales currently at Seaworld the last orcas under human care.