When you think of SeaWorld or other marine parks, you might envision a vibrant place filled with families coming together for a good time, but the reality for the animals you’re watching are grim. A new documentary, “Blackfish,” (out on July 19) reveals the plight these beautiful creatures face as they work day and night to entertain the world. Olivia Wilde took to Twitter to discuss the film and be a voice for the voiceless.
The 29-year-old Pisces Tweeted, “Only movie I want to go see this week: Blackfish. Watch out, Sea World. We are on to you.” “Blackfish” tells the story of one particular killer whale, Tilikum. As ABC News states, “There have been four deaths involving killer whales in captivity, and Tilikum has been associated with three of them.” The film specifically focuses on the death of gifted trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by Tilikum in 2010. The film also explains “that the psychological stress of captivity and being made to perform caused Tilikum (and other cetaceans as well) such stress that severe trauma and aggression is the result.”
A normal life for a killer whale in the ocean is traveling around 100 miles a day, while in captivity they are limited, extremely limited. This causes an immense amount of stress within the animal, which triggers trauma and aggression. For 25 years, Tilikum lived in an enclosure whose size would be comparable to a human living in a bathtub. When these animals are taken into captivity, not only are they taken away from their family units, but they are deprived of communication with other whales, which they rely on heavily in the wild. Killer whales use echolocation, a complicated system of sounds, to communicate and hunt in the wild. But when they use these sounds, which are capable of traveling long distances in the ocean, in captivity, the sound bounces right back off the wall, creating sensory deprivation.
SeaWorld has responded to the film, stating: “Instead of a fair and balanced treatment of a complex subject, the film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau’s family, friends and colleagues.”
David Kirby, author of Death At SeaWorld, refutes all of SeaWorld’s complaints in this letter, and told NPR that SeaWorld’s claims are easily disputable. He also wisely stated: “My book is not against SeaWorld, nor is ‘Blackfish,’ per se. The message is against keeping killer whales in captivity, wherever they are being held. SeaWorld does do work with animal rescue, conservation, and outreach to local schools, though contributions to science and to the education of park guests are meager, at best. But the public is getting the message that captivity is wrong, and ‘Blackfish’ will really help. Besides, SeaWorld can survive and thrive without live whales and dolphins. Look at the hugely popular Monterrey Aquarium in California: Not a cetacean in sight, by design.”
+ Watch the “Blackfish” trailer.
Check if 'Blackfish' is playing at your local theater. It's an eye-opening doc about the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity.
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