Orca Intimacies and Environmental Slow Death

Earthling ethics for a claustrophobic world

Authored by: Margret Grebowicz

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415707749
eBook ISBN: 9781315886572
Adobe ISBN:


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In December 2014, twenty-seven-year-old Yang Jinhai broke into a tiger pen in a zoo in Southern China in hopes that the tigers would eat him alive. The Time magazine headline read ‘Depressed Man Tries to Feed Himself to Tigers, Rejected’. It echoed another recent failure to get eaten alive, namely that of anaconda snake scientist and activist Paul Rosolie, whose Discovery Channel special ‘Eaten Alive’ disappointed viewers who had tuned in to see just that. The New York Post announced, ‘Viewers livid after Anaconda Man fails to get eaten alive’ (Morabito 2014). Could part of the success of Blackfish (2013), the documentary film about Sea World whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was not just killed but also partly eaten by her beloved orca, Tilikum, be due to the public expectation finally being fulfilled? She was killed immediately following a ‘Dine with Shamu’ show. Though the cause of her death was drowning and blunt trauma to the head, several moments in the film imply that she was eaten, or something like it – ‘he still has her’ and ‘his mouth had to be pried open’.

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