Infamous Killer Whale Tilikum Dies in Captivity
By Amanda Froelich
According to a new report by SeaWorld, Tilikum—the infamous killer whale involved in the deaths of three people—died today. The well-known orca, thought to be about 35-years-old, was the focus of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which criticizes the marine park for keeping killer whales and other aquatic wildlife in conditions deemed to be less-than-ideal.
On January 6, SeaWorld announced on its website:
"Tilikum passed away early this morning, January 6, surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care."
Tilikum was the most prolific male orca at SeaWorld, according to BBC News, as he sired 14 calves. The orca remained a part of the "SeaWorld family" despite the fact that he was responsible for trainer Dawn Brancheau's death after he dragged her underwater by the hair and repeatedly struck her. The orca has also been credited with two other deaths, which were detailed in the Blackfish documentary.
"While today is a difficult day for the SeaWorld family, it's important to remember that Tilikum lived a long and enriching life while at SeaWorld," the statement reads. "Tilikum's life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau. While we all experienced profound sadness about that loss, we continued to offer Tilikum the best care possible."
Some are disputing the marine park's claim that Tilikum led a "long and enriching life." CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, for example, claims that the killer whale was "caught up for decades in the old business model of captive orcas on display," and that his aggression was an effect of living in inhumane conditions. Pacelle did, however, express hope that "the era of keeping these great animals in captivity will actually end."
Animal rights activist organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as well, had a less than optimistic response to the news. Activists stated that Tilikum died "after three decades of misery." On social media, the group wrote:
"It's no wonder Tilikum succumbed to mental illness under such conditions, and then finally, to incurable physical illness."
After Brauncheu's death, new rules were implemented to protect the employees and prevent future deaths. However, because Blackfish argued that life in tanks makes orcas more aggressive toward humans and each other, activists demanded more. In 2016, SeaWorld Entertainment officials announced that the tourist attraction would end its breeding program and theatrical shows involving the orcas. To this day, the marine park is still working to improve the company's share price, as well as attendance at shows.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
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Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
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Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.