News out of SeaWorld shows just how big of an impact 'Blackfish' has had.

In 2013, documentary "Blackfish" was released. And SeaWorld — or, more specifically, our perceptions of SeaWorld — changed forever.

The film explored the life of Tilikum, an orca (killer whale) living at SeaWorld Orlando that's been involved in three separate human deaths — in 1991, 1999, and 2010. While the knee-jerk reaction may be to cast blame on an unruly, dangerous orca, just the opposite is true: It was Tilikum's years in captivity that resulted in his hostility.

Tilikum, splashing around in captivity, in 2011. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.


Orcas are not naturally aggressive to humans. But living in captivity can significantly reduce an orca's life span, affect its health, and inflict a great deal of stress, which likely contributed to Tilikum's aggressive outbursts, animal rights activists have argued.

For the record, SeaWorld has maintained that "Blackfish" "paints a distorted picture" of orcas in its care and argued that many key facts about its parks' conservation and rehabilitation efforts were left out of the film. But the facts spoke for themselves — and people weren't pleased.

In the months following the release of "Blackfish," SeaWorld's profits dropped a whopping 84%.

Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images.

The company cited “continued brand challenges” as the reason for its major dip in park attendance, The Guardian reported. (That's code for "the truth about our orca program is reaching far and wide.")

Fortunately, out of the goodness of its heart (and its plummeting sales), SeaWorld has been changing its ways.

For the first time, a new SeaWorld park is opening without any killer whales in it. Instead, the park will rely on other innovative attractions to bring in visitors.

The park, set to open its doors in Abu Dhabi in 2022, will have a marine life research and rehabilitation center (a first in the United Arab Emirates) — but no orca breeding program or controversial killer whale shows, CNN reported.

Although specifics have yet to be announced, the park will focus on different (less harmful) thrills for guests.

It's not the first bit of good news out of SeaWorld for animal activists this year. In March 2016, the company announced it's phasing out its orca breeding programs and killer whale shows for good (although many of its orcas are young, so they will still be kept in captivity for years to come).

The new orca-free SeaWorld is a great reminder that we especially need right now: to use your voice (and wallet) to make a difference.

A controversial new president-elect is sending shock waves around the globe. War-torn Syria is grappling with unconscionable human tragedy. Native Americans have to protest Big Oil in historic numbers in order for the world to pay even the slightest bit of attention. These problems seem too big to fathom for many of us.

"Blackfish" persuading people to spend their vacation dollars somewhere other than SeaWorld these past few years proves that one thing is always true: Real change is possible.

Funds have poured into causes most at-risk during a Trump presidency. Rallies around the world are demanding we don't look away from the atrocities in Aleppo. And, just this month, the Standing Rock Sioux won a resounding victory in stopping a destructive pipeline from ruining its sacred lands (although the work there is far from over).

It's a good lesson to remember in 2017: Stepping up and speaking out does make an impact.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."