Wednesday's announcement that TriMet has named the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge after the murderous orca Tilikum has led to renewed interest in the life and homicides of this beloved killer whale.
The transit agency had considered other names for the bridge, but ruled out the most-suggested name, that of popular street musician "Working" Kirk Reeves, after determining that he lacked "historical and lasting significance." The naming committee also spurned pioneering feminist publisher Abigail Scott Duniway.
That's understandable—because whatever their accomplishments, neither Reeves nor Duniway murdered three people.
Trimet's bridge namers considered a number of criteria before choosing the name of a homicidal fish that has delighted millions of small children with skillful acrobatics and natural majesty. The questions considered by the naming committee included "Is it inspirational? If so, why?" and "Does it reflect how a bridge connects people? If so, how?"
At least three of the people Tilikum met are connected by being dead.
But while the legend of Tilikum is well known, spread through sources such as Youtube videos of tragic and protracted assaults in which dedicated SeaWorld trainers are repeatedly dragged to the bottom of clear blue pools and gnawed on like chew toys in front of thousands of people, the real Tilikum remains elusive to most.
Here are some fun facts about the recently honored Tilikum you might not have known—until now.
No TriMet officials were harmed during the writing of this listicle.