Sorry. Not that it’s a surprise, but Tili isn’t going anywhere.
When Icelandic media started reporting a few days ago that a permit request to return Tilikum to Icelandic waters had been filed with the Fisheries Ministry, it was a puzzler. There is just about zero chance that SeaWorld would ever release Tilikum (or any other killer whale). Yet, the Ministry Of Fisheries seemed to be confirming that at least someone had filed a permit request.
Icelandic media kept churning out stories, with at least one yielding an interesting anecdote about the young Tilikum in captivity. And I kept reading along, until I finally saw a name associated with the permit in this story (via tortured Google translation):
In the register of the Ministry stated that the application was received in August. Appointment of qualit inc., From Tracy ELPoured and copy center Sea World. Requested the Ministry to permit that Tilikum will be transferred to his home after decades stay as gripping performances. “It is not a position has been taken to the communication. But, here might be a new whale-tale coming up, “said an employee of the Ministry. “They want to get rid of him. But, this seems to be financially. “
So a new permit was filed in August. And seemed to come from a person called Tracy EL Poured, of Qualit Inc. The name Tracy Poured sounded very familiar and a quick search of my e-mail revealed she had been in contact with me in August (according to her e-mail signature she is CEO of Qualia Inc.), to express her support, and belief that the world is changing for the better. We also connected on LinkedIn (that’s her profile picture above), so she could share with me her own lengthy analysis of Tilikum and how his life had affected him.
I e-mailed Tracy yesterday to ask her about the Tilikum permit application, and she did not want to respond directly to the question of whether she had filed it (though she did make clear she did not in any way speak for SeaWorld). After some back and forth, here is what she said:
I appreciate your inquiry and desire for clear answers, Tim. I answer what is mine to answer. Some things are not mine to answer.
I pointed out the 1992 application* in response to your statement “SeaWorld would never release Tilikum”.
I’m involved in conversations with Iceland, SeaWorld, scientists and many more involved in the orca Tilikum situation.
The mention of the 1992 application refers to the inquiry SeaWorld made at the time it was trying to import Tilikum from Sealand to its Orlando park on an emergency basis. Part of that process was establishing that there was no good alternative to the import, so SeaWorld needed Iceland to say they didn’t want Tilikum back.
Separately, I learned that Tracy had been in touch with some of the former SeaWorld trainers about the possibility of participating in a rehab and release process for Tilikum.
So I think it is safe to conclude that Tracy filed the permit application, or at least played a role in it, in a well-meaning but quixotic hope that somehow she could help orchestrate Tilikum’s return to Icelandic waters. And the media took it from there.