Animal advocacy group sues federal government over SeaWorld necropsy

A Washington D.C.-based animal advocacy group sued two federal agencies this week, accusing them of ignoring public record requests as they push for Tilikum’s full necropsy to get released.

Tilikum, the whale at the center of the anti-captivity documentary “Blackfish” for killing a trainer, died Jan. 6, 2017 at SeaWorld Orlando.

The Animal Welfare Institute, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has asked SeaWorld to release the full autopsy in hopes it would reveal information on the whale’s issues and animals living in captivity.

But SeaWorld officials have argued they released the animal‘s cause of death — as legally required — and are allowing the animal’s tissues to be examined for more than a dozen scientific studies.Tilikum died from bacterial pneumonia.

“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,” Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute,

The dispute between SeaWorld and the animal agencies centers around whether the theme park is required under its permit to provide the necropsy.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service sided with SeaWorld, saying it was not required to do so, the lawsuit said.

The animal institute sued when the federal agencies did not respond to information requests for documents about the agencies’ legal analysis.

A federal spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

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