‘Blackfish’ Takes Aim At SeaWorld

‘Blackfish’ Takes Aim At SeaWorld

by Barbara J. King at www.npr.org

BlackFish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackfish, a movie opening Friday in New York and Los Angeles, takes aim squarely at theme parks like SeaWorld where captive dolphins, including orcas or killer whales, perform in entertainment shows for the public.

“Nothing at [SeaWorld] is what it seems,” Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has said, as reported in The Boston Globe.

I have not yet seen the film, which goes to wide release in subsequent weeks and will air this fall on CNN. Judging from the trailer and other advance material, Blackfish focuses heavily on the 2010 death of SeaWorld-Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau caused by the orca called Tilikum. Blackfish claims 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.

For its part, SeaWorld released a statement on Saturday calling Blackfish “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate.” SeaWorld made a case against the film in a series of 8 points, and the filmmakers have responded.

Last year at 13.7, I wrote about another incident, this time at SeaWorld-San Diego in 2006, in which an orca named Kasatka pulled trainer Ken Peters under the water repeatedly (Peters survived). For that post, I turned to David Kirby’s book Death At SeaWorld, and this week I invited Kirby to participate in a Q&A with me about Blackfish. Our exchange, which was conducted by email, went like this.

Barbara: What impact do you hope Blackfish will have on the movie-going public?

David: I hope it will make movie-goers think; though how you could leave the theater without thinking about the plight of captive orcas is beyond me. This movie — and this terrible saga of marine mammal display — makes us question and judge ourselves, as humans and consumers of entertainment. The verdict is still out on us, but Blackfish presents its evidence powerfully and wrenchingly. Many people are on the fence about killer whale captivity — they won’t be after seeing this movie.

Barbara: Can you help us make sense of the debate between SeaWorld and the makers of Blackfish about the accuracy of the movie’s content?

David: It was one of the clumsiest, most ill-advised acts of corporate crisis-management [by SeaWorld] I’ve seen in decades — think New Coke — and it’s driving ticket sales, and sales of my book, so it already backfired. SeaWorld listed 8 complaints, all of them easily disputable. It suggested, among other things, that orcas live as long in captivity as the wild — false; that SeaWorld orcas are not bullied by tank-mates — false; that SeaWorld orca families are not broken up unnecessarily — false; and that trainers were warned about the dark history of Tilikum, who did not “attack” Dawn Brancheau when he killed her — false and patently false. I wrote my own rebuttal [available online].

Barbara: The stance taken in your book and also in the movie is a strong one against SeaWorld. Do you believe that the public is beginning, or will begin, to look differently at SeaWorld and similar cetacean parks?

David: My book is not against SeaWorld, nor is Blackfish, per se. The message is against keeping killer whales in captivity, wherever they are 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.

It’s a good point that David makes: For theme parks, certainly, not a cetacean in sight, by design, is the desirable wave of the future.

Article from NPR.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Upcoming Events
Sep
1
Mon
2:15 pm VegMichigan’s Mid-Michigan Libra... @ LIbrary Display at Southgate Library
VegMichigan’s Mid-Michigan Libra... @ LIbrary Display at Southgate Library
Sep 1 @ 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Please check out our library display at Southgate Library, located at 14680 Dix-Toledo, Southgate MI 48195. Please contact Joyce Farkas at (734) Read more ›
6:30 pm VegMichigan’s Metro Detroit Libr... @ Library Display at Auburn Hills OCC Campus Library
VegMichigan’s Metro Detroit Libr... @ Library Display at Auburn Hills OCC Campus Library
Sep 1 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Please check out our library display located at the Auburn Hills Oakland Community College Library, 2900 Featherstone Rd., Auburn Hills, Mi. (248) Read more ›
Sep
2
Tue
7:00 pm VegMichigan’s Vegan 101 Cooking ... @ Rochester Hills Whole Foods
VegMichigan’s Vegan 101 Cooking ... @ Rochester Hills Whole Foods
Sep 2 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
VegMichigan's Vegan 101 Cooking Class @ Rochester Hills Whole Foods | Rochester Hills | Michigan | United States
Whole Foods Cooking Class Photo 1 Please join VegMichigan for this fun and informative cooking class. Attendees will learn the nutritional aspects Read more ›
Sep
4
Thu
12:00 pm Michigan No-kill Conference @ Somerset Inn
Michigan No-kill Conference @ Somerset Inn
Sep 4 @ 12:00 pm – Sep 5 @ 5:00 pm
Join shelter, rescue, animal control and welfare workers, volunteers, policy makers, and compassionate community members to learn ways to save lives in Read more ›
Sep
6
Sat
6:00 pm Ann Arbor Home Grown Festival @ Ann Arbor Farmers Market
Ann Arbor Home Grown Festival @ Ann Arbor Farmers Market
Sep 6 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
VegMichigan will have a table with free literature at The HomeGrown Festival. This festival is a grassroots community event showcasing the best Read more ›

View Calendar