23 January 2017Popular
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.
<p> Coincidentally on that same weekend, professional race car driver and environmental advocate Leilani Münter was in town to give a speech at a sustainability symposium. Tilikum's death particularly struck a chord; the longtime animal rights activist once drove a <em><a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/sea-world-responds-to-blackfish-documentary-sea-shepherd-sets-the-reco-1881841876.html" target="_blank">Blackfish</a></em>-themed race car at the Talladega Superspeedway in 2014 to raise awareness about cetaceans in captivity. </p><div id="1aa62" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3UW8SH1498490188"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="818181756755017728" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">So Sad! Infamous Killer Whale #Tilikum Dies in Captivity https://t.co/Q8d3uWjhlw @peta @HumaneSociety @Oceana @acousteau</div> — EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)<a href="https://twitter.com/EcoWatch/statuses/818181756755017728">1483904706.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Heartbroken" over the news and prompted by her chance proximity to the deceased whale, Münter drove to SeaWorld on the afternoon of Jan. 8 to pay her respects. She placed a sign and 33 roses—one for each year Tilikum spent in captivity—at the park entrance. </p><p> <span></span>"May the four winds blow you safely to your ocean home where you've belonged all these 33 years," the sign read. "RIP Tilikum." </p><p> Münter's gesture, which she filmed and posted on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leilanimunter/videos/10154915614904371/" target="_blank">Facebook Live</a>, resulted in a <a href="https://twitter.com/LeilaniMunter/status/818327521242521600" target="_blank">trespass warning</a> from the Orange County Sheriff's Office and an indefinite ban from not just the Orlando park but from all of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Properties, including Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Florida Festival, Places of Learning, Corporate Offices, Contact Center, Busch Gardens-Tampa and Adventure Island. </p><div id="e4f69" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="C58IPT1498490188"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="820833744437346304" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Let's all promise to get into some #GoodTrouble in 2017. https://t.co/3ocTRaPBgW</div> — Leilani Münter (@Leilani Münter)<a href="https://twitter.com/LeilaniMunter/statuses/820833744437346304">1484536989.0</a></blockquote></div><p> SeaWorld confirmed the incident to <a href="https://speedwaydigest.com/index.php/news/racing-news/35386-arca-racing-series-driver-munter-banned-from-seaworld-orlando" target="_blank">Speedway Digest</a>. "The safety of our ambassadors and guests, and the welfare of our animals is always our top priority," said Vice President of Public Relations Aimée Jeansonne Becka. </p><p> Münter is not too bothered by the ban, saying she's "not a huge fan" of the park anyway. However, she told EcoWatch that it's "ridiculous" that the company considered her a safety threat to park visitors. </p><p> "I wasn't making a ruckus. It was just so harmless," she said, noting that she did not shout at anyone or use a loudspeaker and did not resist detainment. She has also posted a <a href="https://twitter.com/LeilaniMunter/status/820643865183059968" target="_blank">full statement</a> about the incident on social media.</p><p>The official complaint states, "Subject was mourning loss of orca on property w/roses and sign without permission." <br></p><div id="df171" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="DKQ6YA1498490189"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="818327521242521600" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Here's the official SeaWorld complaint against me to Orange County Sheriff's Office banning me from all their prope… https://t.co/PcZFfUP1vl</div> — Leilani Münter (@Leilani Münter)<a href="https://twitter.com/LeilaniMunter/statuses/818327521242521600">1483939459.0</a></blockquote></div><p> The 42-year-old racer is currently back home in Charlotte, North Carolina. When asked about her brush with SeaWorld security, she told EcoWatch that she wanted to pay respect to Tilikum's life. </p><p> "He's one of many orcas that has lived a miserable life in captivity but his story is somewhat exceptional," describing how the 2013 documentary <em>Blackfish</em> was about Tilikum's life and "the plight of captivity." <br> </p><p> "It's wrong to pull these magnificent animals that are emotionally complex and live in tight-knit family groups from the wild. To force them to live this horrific life in this tiny pool doing tricks for food I think is just wrong," she said. </p><p> "We can see these animals in their magnificence in the wild, and isn't that a much more beautiful way to see these animals instead of seeing them in a cage or jumping through hoops?"</p><div id="cb8e0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="X4PAZI1498490189"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="820761354869018624" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">SeaWorld's parking lot outlined in yellow, their orca habitat is outlined in blue. This is wrong. #EmptyTheTanks https://t.co/bvitRG7OHS</div> — Leilani Münter (@Leilani Münter)<a href="https://twitter.com/LeilaniMunter/statuses/820761354869018624">1484519730.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Tilikum was brought to SeaWorld 25 years ago and died at the estimated age of 36. In March, SeaWorld <a href="https://seaworldcares.com/en/future" target="_blank">announced the end of the orca breeding program</a>, meaning the whales currently at SeaWorld will be the last generation of orcas under human care.<br></p><p> Münter will return to the Daytona International Speedway in the <a target="_blank" href="http://arcaracing.com/">ARCA Racing Series</a> season opener on Feb. 18 in the first-ever vegan-themed race car for Venturini Motorsports. Münter adopts an acre of rainforest for every race she's in, a tradition she started back in 2007. </p><p> Check out the ride in the video here: </p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-youtube"> <span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7a7971b7dcc05ad63c5f7433a7a98012"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KMpc87lbXd0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span> </p>
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