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SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Kim / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

British travel giant Thomas Cook announced over the weekend it will stop offering tickets to animal attractions that keep killer whales in captivity.

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Kai Schreiber / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Momentum is building in the war against single-use plastics. In the past week, a slew of major companies—including SeaWorld parks, American Express, cruise company Royal Caribbean, IKEA, A&W Canada and Burger King UK—have pledged to eliminate items such as plastic drinking straws, stirrers, lids and bags in efforts to protect our oceans and their inhabitants.

SeaWorld Entertainment announced Thursday, right before World Oceans Day, that all 12 of its theme parks have removed all single-use plastic drinking straws and shopping bags.

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Large recycled plastic fish sculpture in Helsingor situated infront of the Kronborg Castle in Helsingor in Denmark in July 28th 2017. James D. Morgan / Getty Images

The plastic pollution crisis has been building for some time now, to the point where around eight million tons of plastic enter the world's oceans each year.

In response, a movement to cut down on plastic waste has also been gaining momentum, but 2018 was the year it really picked up speed, with everyone from ordinary tourists to major companies to the Queen of England lending their hands to push it along.

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Kasatka, a female orca who lived in captivity for nearly four decades, was humanely euthanized Tuesday night at SeaWorld San Diego. She was approximately 41 years old.

The ocean park announced that the mother of four, grandmother of six and great grandmother of two died at approximately 8:15 p.m. "surrounded by members of her pod, as well as the veterinarians and caretakers who loved her."

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Kyara, a killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio just three months ago, died Monday at the park, as reported in this video from Newsy. Kyara is the last orca to be born in captivity under the SeaWorld breeding program, which shut down in 2016.

In a statement, SeaWorld said the cause of death was "likely pneumonia" and that "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week."

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According to Bloomberg, "SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. received a subpoena earlier this month from regulators investigating disclosures and public statements by executives, including comments about the Blackfish documentary that caused a public backlash against the confinement of orcas.

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Captive dolphins at Marineland Antibes in France. John Clift

By Laura Bridgeman

The French government passed new legislation earlier this month aimed at phasing out all dolphin and whale captivity, a move that reflects growing public awareness and concern over the poor living conditions cetaceans are forced to endure in captivity.

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On the morning of Jan. 6, one of SeaWorld's most well-known orcas, Tilikum, passed away surrounded by trainers, care staff and veterinarians at the Orlando, Florida ocean theme park where the famous killer whale lived most of his life.

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By Ashley Palmer

Led by an "orca," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) members descended on SeaWorld San Diego with signs urging, "SeaWorld: Send Corky Home!" The action was the first protest in PETA's new "Free Corky" campaign, which calls for the longest-held captive orca in the world to be released into a sea sanctuary planned for a protected bay in her home waters off the coast of British Columbia.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Corky was taken from the wild in 1969 and has known nothing but misery in a concrete tank ever since. She has been forced to endure seven pregnancies (she was continually pregnant for almost 10 years from 1977 to 1986), but none of her calves survived more than 46 days. Her last stillborn fetus was found at the bottom of the holding tank.

SeaWorld has taken a step forward by ending its sordid orca-breeding program, but that does nothing to help animals like Corky who will continue to swim in circles inside tiny tanks for decades until they die.

As PETA revealed in a new video, the sanctuary would allow Corky to relearn natural types of behavior, such as diving deep, swimming fast and in a straight line, and finding her own food. She could also communicate with her brother and sister, Fife and Ripple, who often visit the adjacent Blackfish Sound.

What You Can Do

Help Corky today by taking a moment to ask SeaWorld to implement a firm and rapid plan to release her into a sea sanctuary where she'll be given a semblance of the natural life that she has been denied for so long.

Neil H / Flickr

By Rachel Krantz

When I spotted fellow vegan James Cromwell in line for food at an advance screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, I couldn't help but try to talk to him. Recently arrested at a protest against SeaWorld, the Babe and Six Feet Under actor is a remarkable environmental and animal activist.

"Can you believe they're serving chickens here?" I asked him. "I mean, I guess it's a little better for the environment than eating cows, but it's still ironic to be serving animals at a party for a documentary about climate change."

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Meet Takara, a 25-year-old pregnant orca living in SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas. Takara's newborn, expected to arrive in Spring 2017, will be the last remaining orca to live its life in SeaWorld's tanks after the ocean park announced in March it would end its captive orca breeding program after years of campaigning from animal welfare groups and concerned citizens.

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