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by Bryce J. Renninger
July 15, 2013 11:06 AM
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SeaWorld Unleashes 8 Assertions About 'Blackfish' and Filmmakers Respond

"Blackfish" Magnolia
It's rare that corporations targeted in documentaries hire a film publicist to make sure that critics and journalists are informed of the company's response to a film.  McDonald's didn't work to do damage control with film writers when "Super Size Me" opened, though there were rumors it would.  It's common for industries and corporations to erect damage control mechanisms for the public.  In the famous case chronicled in the New Yorker, David Koch seems to have pulled his support of WNET because they aired Alex Gibney's "Park Avenue."  "Gasland" director Josh Fox's follow-up to his fracking exposé makes clear the natural gas industry's attack on his film.

This weekend, indie film publicists had competing clients, when SeaWorld lashed out at Gabriela Cowperthwaite's film "Blackfish," the Sundance documentary that was picked up by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films.  Starting with the death of
orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, "Blackfish" tells the history of SeaWorld and other like theme parks and notes the ways in which the conditions at these parks are harming the whales that are kept in them and are putting humans in danger.

READ MORE: Interview: 'Blackfish' Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Discusses Suffering Orcas, Trainer Death, and Why SeaWorld Hasn't Seen the Movie

After keeping mum for some time, this past Saturday, SeaWorld released a list of eight problems they had with the film through film publicity outfit 42West.  The list of issues with the film came addressed to "film credits" with the subject line "A dishonest movie."  SeaWorld's assertions were introduced by saying, "
Although 'Blackfish' is by most accounts a powerful, emotionally-moving piece of advocacy, it is also shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate. As the late scholar and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously noted: 'You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'"

After enumerating their complaints with the film, the letter ended, "
These are only the most egregious of the film’s many misrepresentations.  'Blackfish' is similarly misleading and inaccurate in its account of the other fatal incidents in which Tilikum was supposedly involved, what happened at Loro Parque, the training and qualifications of SeaWorld trainers, and the care and living conditions enjoyed by SeaWorld’s orcas. And the list goes on…and on."

"Blackfish" opens in Los Angeles and New York this week, and it expands to other markets in subsequent weeks.  It will air on CNN this fall. 

Below are SeaWorld's eight assertions (which, as noted above, could have been more), and the filmmakers' response to them.  Though the situation is clearly complicated, the filmmakers rightly point out that the film often does portray some of the perspectives addressed in SeaWorld's assertions.  Potential viewers beware, SeaWorld's assertions involve spoilers.

"Blackfish" Magnolia
SeaWorld Assertion 1

The insinuation that SeaWorld stocks its parks with killer whales captured from the wild. In fact, SeaWorld hasn’t collected a killer whale from the wild in more than 35 years; more than 80% of the killer whales at SeaWorld were born there or in other zoological facilities. 

Film Response:

It is not transparent to us whether SeaWorld has watched the film carefully. We were very clear in the film that the majority of whales at SeaWorld parks these days are captive-born. In fact, we have a graphic showing that many of those captive-born calves are Tilikum's offspring, the whale who has a proven track record of killing 3 people.

That said, there is a whale called Morgan at a marine park in Spain which houses SeaWorld-owned whales. Morgan was caught in the wild and was placed in Loro Parque where she will be bred and perform alongside the other SeaWorld whales.

SeaWorld Assertion 2

The assertion that killer whales in the wild live more than twice as long as those living at SeaWorld.  While research suggests that some wild killer whales can live as long as 60 or 70 years, their average lifespan is nowhere near that. Nor is it true that killer whales in captivity live only 25 to 35 years. Because we’ve been studying killer whales at places like SeaWorld for only 40 years or so, we don’t know what their lifespans might be—though we do know that SeaWorld currently has one killer whale in her late 40s and a number of others in their late 30s.     


Film Response


In the wild, average lifespan is 30 for males, 50 for females. Their estimated maximum life span is 60-70 years for males and 80-90 years for females. In captivity, most orcas die in their teens and 20s and only a handful have made it past 35.The annual mortality or death rate for orcas is 2.5 times higher in captivity than it is in the wild. These are not controversial data.  

In the film, we depict what seems to be a deliberate attempt by SeaWorld to misrepresent these well documented data to their visitors.

SeaWorld Assertion 3

The implication that unlike killer whales in the wild, killer whales  in zoos or parks—and specifically Tilikum, the whale involved in Dawn Brancheau’s death—are routinely bullied by other whales.  The word “bullying” is meaningless when applied to the behavior of an animal like a killer whale. Whales live in a social setting with a dominance hierarchy, both at SeaWorld and in the wild. They express dominance in a variety of ways, including using their teeth to “rake” other whales, in the open ocean as well as in parks.   ·        


Film Response


SeaWorld does not show an understanding of basic behavioral biology in this statement. It is true that social animals like orcas do have dominance hierarchies and they are maintained via behavioral interactions. The film asserts that in the wild, whales can also flee conflict. Whales at SeaWorld cannot escape from a negative social interaction and are therefore confronted with conflicts that have proven to be injurious and even fatal.

Furthermore in the wild, these hierarchies are among family groups and are maintained with minimal aggression. In the wild, no orca has ever been known to seriously injure or kill another orca, inside or outside of their social group, in any interaction. Certainly minor injuries occur, and scars may remain (including nicks in dorsal fins and scratches on saddles), but no serious injury inflicted on one wild orca by another orca has ever been recorded, when observing live animals or in examining dead ones.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article identified the PBS affiliate David Koch stopped funding as WNYC, which was incorrect.  WNYC is a New York public radio station.  WNET (thirteen) is the television network in question
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106 Comments

  • veronica | March 16, 2014 9:26 PMReply

    look this stuff is crazy so live your life and get over it

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 7:31 PMReply

    Do a search: sam-simon-says-kshamenk-is-most-abused-orca-in-the-world

    So is this humane?

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 7:19 PMReply

    Ishmael

    Orca Deserts United States Navy

    This is the story of a young orca who was captured in 1968 by the Seattle Aquarium near Seattle, Washington. He was named Ishmael and shipped to Point Mugu, California, to begin training with the United States Navy as part of Project Deep Ops.

    His basic Navy education began on May 24, 1969. Ishmael was trained to return to his station, allow handling, respond to a recall buzzer attached to his backpack, retrieve an inflated ball with an attached ring, swim through a 10 x 10 foot gate, hold his breath and exhale on acoustic command, and follow a nine-foot outboard boat.

    After basic training ended at Point Mugu in December 1969, Ishmael was transferred to Project Deep Ops in Hawaii to start his deep diving assignment.

    On 19 February 1971, Ishmael made a dive to 500 feet. On the next trial, he made a shallow dive and returned to the boat. On the third try, he made another shallow dive, spat out the training device in his mouth, and returned to the boat.

    When he surfaced, Ishmael slapped his large tail flukes on the water (lobtailing) and hit the water with his pectoral fins. After he swam a few hundred yards away from the boat, his trainers decided to stop his lessons for the day.
    Here......for the IDIOTS that think they LIKE what they are doing in captivity. Why did this orca SWIM AWAY?????? He was fed! He should have had a great life! Why did he swim away???

    Be educated before you try to act like you are!

    But Ishmael had a different plan. He started swimming toward the channel entrance and never looked back. He refused to respond to radio signals transmitted via his backpack. The Navy sped after him. When last sighted, Ishmael was outside the channel entrance. Despite a search for several days by boat and air, Ishmael was never seen again …at least not by the Navy.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:58 PMReply

    do a search on this: what-happened-nakai-seaworld-whale-missing-huge-chunk-chin

    I can't post the link here.

  • Kind Soul | February 9, 2014 1:02 PMReply

    These animals are not on earth for human exploitive, abusive pleasure. We (humans) are a sick species. Everything is for our misuse and about us. Homo Sapiens are amoung the youngest species on the planet, but I do not believe we will ever last long enough to be amoungst the oldest.

  • Shakeel Ahmed | February 6, 2014 10:36 AMReply

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  • Jerk^^^ | February 20, 2014 5:23 PM

    What the hell do you think you are doing spamming and scamming here!

  • SHAKEEL AHMED | February 6, 2014 10:35 AMReply

    Appeal: For God’s Sake, Help me
    Sir/Madam,
    I want to say to you all friends and brothers that I agree that internet is misused by people and make false stories to seek help from people and make obstacles for true man. All the appeals I have made so for are all true. I am telling a truth because if I tell a lie , I would have to tell you another hundred lies. Friends, I want to tell you that I have contacted many presidents of world. It is truth. I want to tell you which presidents have contacted me. Germany, Chile, American state’s governor Patrick and the Kuwait’s president and Ban-Ki-Moon of UNO have written me a letter. A Costa Rica who is president of this country has contacted me. I believe that they will have contacted my Pakistani’s embassy and all agencies and from police station near to my home. If I had been working, I would have been arrested so far. I thank all the presidents of world who have replied me and believed on a true person like me and they have said that they cannot interfere in internal matters. I want to say to you to inquiry about me from agencies and police station before helping me. If I am wrong, arrest me and sue me. I am ready to co-operate you because I don’t fear because I am a true man. No one may be like me, the poor way I am living. I am sad that those who read my appeal laugh at me. May God, they don’t do it again. Plz think of helping me.
    You’re Sincere,
    Shakeel Ahmed,
    Phone: +923455160709, +92346593721
    My CNIC Number: 37405-1181727-9
    My wife’s CNIC Number: 37405-9196555-2
    My passport number: C2801187

    Address: St#27, Obaid Cosmetics, Allama Iqbal colony, Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi Cantt, Pakistan

    My Account Information:
    Account Name: Raja Shakil Ahmed
    Account Number: 212377015
    Branch Code: 0041
    UBL Cantt Branch, Rawalpindi, Saddar

  • oscar | January 21, 2014 11:20 AMReply

    omg you need a different color background/font. Its so hard to read!

  • mytake | January 18, 2014 5:20 PMReply

    Watching this, I felt more empathy for the trainers than the whales. YouTube the video of the orca drowning and killing a baby humphack whale with its mother, well, that's nature even if the orca are on the receiving end at our hands sometimes. The poor naive trainers though. Frankly I'm surprised you don`t need a marine biology degree with a focus on marine mammals to work as a trainer, but why was I thinking they acted like an aquarium would?
    Clearly these trainers are prefered to be young and dumb and still think they are doing magic there. In hindsight, they all seem to realize wtf was I thinking then, but its after the fact, with plenty still involved. Clearly OSHA was on the right track, and they should go further and regulate only those with truly the proper education and knowledge be able to work with these animals.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 5:32 PM

    WELL SAID! OSHA should force them to hire people with a true education. Yes they play these young as fools. They get them young and brainwash them and if you don't do it Seaworld's way someone else will. The only way this can be stopped is to stop paying to see the Orcas! Even if most are bred in captivity it is slavery! They stole babies from the families in the wild and from their mothers and then turned them into slaves and forced them to breed in captivity! Seaworld is a slavery corporation. The orcas are intelligent and are deprived their rights. Seaworld is guilty of kidnapping and slavery. The orcas have no choice. I hope they keep killing and put them out of business so it has to stop. Think about it. Kasatka went after Ken Peters because they traumatized her and took one of her babies from her. The day she attacked Ken she had a baby that she was separated from to perform. She acted out. She could have killed Ken and didn't. She even seemed to understand to bring him up for air and let him catch his breath. She may have been very intelligent about her actions that day. She could have killed him in a couple of seconds and didn't. And she didn't keep him under water so long that he couldn't catch his breath. Black Fish didn't portray this fact in the movie. It is a known fact that Kasatka had a baby and she was separated from the baby to perform........as if they all didn't see that attack coming!! I feel bad for Ken. I think most trainers LOVE the animals and after they realize they are brainwashed they stay thinking they can do right by the animals. My guess would be he was forced by Seaworld to do the show with her that day and he may have even known it wasn't wise. When he no longer works for Seaworld we may hear from him. But then again, he may have been paid hush money......and is under an agreement to never speak of that day. Maybe on his death bed or somewhere he might tell.

  • ccreed | January 9, 2014 2:35 AMReply

    I have never been more disturbed about the way we treat our fellow creatures on this Earth than I was after watching Blackfish. You must be one HELL of a heartless individual to think that is "ok". I would like to ask for just ONE example of how they are justified in treating these beautiful animals as they have.....

  • Caleb | January 8, 2014 12:02 AMReply

    Seaworld is an amazing place, they are excellent at what they do and they are very successful. I have been to the shows with the killer whales multiple times and it seems like the whales, as well as the trainers, thoroughly enjoy what they do. I also went to the exhibit where you could view the killer whales both from above and below the water. I observed the whales playing with each other, rubbing each others bellies and swimming around with each other for approximately 10 minutes. One of the larger whales came up to the glass and stared my two year old daughter in the face for almost two minutes, she loved every second of it. From what i could tell the whales seemed extremely content to put on a show for those of us who were privileged enough to witness these magnificent animals in way that we never would have been able to if it were not for Seaworld. In regards to Tilikum, he is the alpha male of the park. I was born and raised on a farm, every animal we had on the farm that was a male and was not neutered, could not be trusted. The bulls (male cattle) we had on the farm were extremely inconsistent. I learned very quickly that with breeding bulls and breeding boars (male pigs) you NEVER turned your back on them and if you had to get into the pen with them you always left yourself a way of escape. These male animals could be your best friend one second and charging you the next. If there were females "in heat" these inconsistencies increased exponentially. It appears to be no different in Killer Whales but due to the size of these animals, the problem becomes much larger. Anyone who has experience with animals will know that the alpha male of any group of animals is not something to be toyed with, whether it be pigs, cows, whales, wolves, or any other animal, domesticated or not domesticated. Take this statistic regarding household pets: An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year2,3
    Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care2
    Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered-American Humane Association How many of you calling for Seaworld's head have a male dog? My point is this, working with animals in any facet of life is dangerous and comes with inherent risks. It doesn't mean that everyone who owns a dog should go out and euthanize their pet or that places like Seaworld should get rid of all of their animals, it means that we need to understand the risks and act accordingly, it seems that since the last death involving Tilikum, the procedures at Seaworld have changed and with good reason. Seaworld is an earth friendly establishment, promoting recycling and providing hundreds of much needed jobs to a struggling economy but remember, Seaworld is a business and they have to make money, they do this by providing ordinary people an extraordinary opportunity to interact with some of the most amazing animals this world has to offer and for that i am willing to pay, as long as it is done humanely and responsibly, both of which Seaworld is doing. Research it for yourself, learn about animals, don't just buy into it because they made a movie about it and don't believe it because it is popular, learn the facts. Another fun fact, PETA would have you to believe that Sled Dogs in Alaska (I am from Alaska) are tortured into pulling those sleds, one of my best friends had a sled dog team, if those dogs saw you working with any of the gear required to pull a sled they would get very excited because they thought you were taking them out, they were ecstatic not because they were tortured or mistreated but because they loved doing it. All i am saying people is educate yourselves and learn all of the facts, people throughout history have accomplished bad things with great intentions. God Bless. 1 Vote for Seaworld

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 5:44 PM

    Dogs are domesticated. Farm animals are domesticated and not yanked from the wild. The killer whales are social animals and just because they appear to enjoy this doesn't mean it is right. Do you think if they were given a choice between the wild or the park they would pick the park? How would you like it if someone came and yanked you from your family and your home and turned you into a slave to perform TRICKS for your food? Do you seriously think the size of those tanks is fair when they could be in the ocean with their families? You miss the reality and the facts......you are brainwashed. The first fact is that a tank vs the ocean isn't right. The second is that if they had the choice they would pick the ocean. You miss the part that they have to do tricks for their food.......how would you like their life. When you are able to live like them and like it......then you can speak your opinion. You only showed ignorance with what you posted. Sled dogs is a poor excuse too because SOME ARE ABUSED! I had a malamute and I know all about iditarod and NOT ALL TEAM OWNERS ARE HUMANE AND NOT ALL ARE ABUSIVE. Shows your ignorance that you can actually believe that just because you know one person that treats their dogs well that ALL of them do. You are truly ignorant. Black Fish is facts as they cleared here against the assertions. You are a pure moron. Your ignorance shines in your post. What an idiot. You know one sled dog owner and think you know it all! You don't see what an idiot YOU are believing bbased on knowing one thing. When you can get out and meet them all and see for yourself then you can speak of that. You are the one that needs do RESEARCH IT FOR YOURSELF. Only a total moron would think that if they met one person in sled dogs they knew everything. And that there wouldn't be abusers out there. You should keep your remarks to yourself. You are the one that needs to educate yourself. What kind of FOOL can actually believe that life in a tank is better for such a large animal and that it is better than in the wild with their family? Are you serious? What an idiot! OMG! What a total moron. I can't believe you believe what you posted.....that you cannot see what a fool you made of yourself! What an idiot!

  • MW Brown | February 16, 2014 4:02 AM

    What does PETA have to do with anything? It would seem you're completely fine with a corporation exploiting these magnificent animals for their profit and your enjoyment. I'm going to guess too that you're of the opinion that Sea World, being a private sector corporation, doesn't need no gubmint intervention. Right? The whales are nothing more than the corporations private property. Heck, I imagine you don't have a problem with puppy mills supplying the pet store trade. I mean, its the free market!! SeaWorld devoted 6 million dollars of its 1,800,000,000.00 annual revenue to research. Its not a research facility. Its a zoo. I hope We The People put this corporation out of business. That's going to be hard though when so many of my fellow citizens couldn't care less about decency. So many watch the footage of calves being torn from their mothers and feel nothing. There's money in it, so its ok.

  • Cassie | January 15, 2014 10:20 PM

    Thanks for your scientific explanation of how, "from what [you] could tell," the whales were enjoying it. Yes, with their markings they LOOK like they're smiling non-stop, but I'm not sure half an hour to an hour of whale observation (with your daughter, whose happiness radiated onto those whales, I'm sure) is enough time for you to make an informed judgment on whether a 12,000 pound animal living almost its entire life in a relatively small pen was happy.

  • paul | January 11, 2014 9:15 PM

    Alpha males don't exist within killer whale pods: they're a strictly matrilineal (i.e. female-dominant) species, and as they said in the documentary, males are often excluded by females within pods. Having said this these animals are obviously unpredictable, and the problem being "much larger" as you stated is clearly the case considering orcas are the apex predator of the ocean.

  • robin | January 10, 2014 1:14 AM

    Amen to that!

  • Jay | January 8, 2014 1:20 PM

    We simply can not ignore the fact that we are not housing dogs or cats or any other land animals here. We are talking about WHALEs. 8,000 to 12,000 lbs whales who in the wild would roam hundreds of miles a day. no man made facility in the world is big enough for them to live in. i don't think they really care about restaurant quality meat and filtered water!

  • Elizabeth Barajas | January 7, 2014 1:06 AMReply

    and even if seaworld hasn't taken a whale from the wild in forever it doesn't undermine the fact that they use terrible breeding practices. 1) tilikum (a whale with past aggressive behavior) shouldn't be used. 2) they masturbate male whales to get their sperm from them (weird) in the wild they would choose their own mate 3) the female whales who are bred years earlier than they would be in the wild..
    DO NOT SUPPORT SEAWORLD. WE MUST END THIS.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 5:51 PM

    All well said to this MORON's post. What a moron......was even so stupid that they posted they knew one person that had sled dogs so they think they know all about it. What kind of idiot would say such a thing! Definitely and idiot.

  • use your brains | January 5, 2014 1:33 AMReply

    For the dark background against dark text comments, just highlight the text as you read along and read. It's simple! Not that hard. You click and drag and let go and read. It is not that difficult.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 5:53 PM

    LOL!! Bully because you say the obvious to someone that can't think. And then WHY would you keep posting about the text rather than the topic? You ask to be bullied!

  • Annoyed by Bullies | January 12, 2014 4:11 PM

    While I was able to read the text after highlighting it, it was still hard to read, and it's a reasonable critique to make that the text is hard to read. Why shouldn't they change it? Why insult someone who would point out this issue? You don't have to be rude by insinuating others are incapable of using their brains. Have some compassion and respect for others.

  • Fix your background | January 2, 2014 6:20 PMReply

    What is wrong with this website, you can't read anything as the text fades into the background

  • Harold | January 1, 2014 9:28 PMReply

    Assertion #2, from Seaworld's open letter on their site, said "SeaWorld’s killer whales’ life spans are equivalent with those in the wild. While studies continue to define the average life span of killer whales in the wild, the most recent science suggests that our killer whales’ life spans are comparable — indeed, five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50."

    "— indeed, five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50."

    "...five of our animals are older than 30,..."

    "...five of our animals..."

    "ANIMALS"

    Considering Seaworld has more animals than just whales, the wording could be carefully chosen.

  • Fuck Sea World | December 24, 2013 12:13 AMReply

    I love how they don't address the captivity and tiny pool living space, and not feeding the whales between and after shows issue.
    Since they didn't address that, it only means they are guilty.
    And they were lying again on each assertion.
    Why wouldn't they? Why would they admit to the truth? That would make them look bad.

  • Todd Sturgell | December 21, 2013 4:20 PMReply

    Seaworld is pursuing a permit to remove pilot whales from the wild RIGHT NOW. If it sounds like they're assertion that they haven't taken an orca from the wild in forever is because they've realized the practice is barbaric, that's just another lie.

  • jackie | February 20, 2014 5:56 PM

    The reason they haven't taken any from the wild is because it is illegal! Not because they chose not to. Besides, they can now breed them whether they want to or not by artificial insemination. None of this is natural and it is all about profits. They run a slavery business......even the humans that work there are SLAVES

  • Todd Sturgell | December 21, 2013 4:20 PM

    *their*

  • izumi yamada | December 20, 2013 8:45 PMReply

    Is there a way to change the background and lettering on this post? I would LOVE to read the article and have been following a related petition and this story for some time, but the colors of this layout are absolutely impossible to read. :-(

  • jackie | February 20, 2014 5:57 PM

    Why don't you highlight it and stop posting about the text

  • Tracy | December 20, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    Blah Blah Blah, SeaWorld manipulative again !! SeaWorld Zoological team who are you kidding ? you should be stripped of your so called degrees ! you are no different than the fishermen whom murder the dolphins in Taiji Japan.

  • Jef | January 30, 2014 12:40 PM

    Right, the people who care for and feed whales and who spend millions on conservation and research are totally like the people who slaughter them by the hundreds
    You're a genius

  • Nicole | December 17, 2013 5:11 PMReply

    I wish we could read about SeaWorld's response to the filmmakers' responses to SeaWorld's assertions

    ...wait, what?

  • Gregg | November 30, 2013 4:53 AMReply

    If the Sea World top execs feel it's so safe, why don't they simply film themselves swimming with the whales? I wish the inhuman scum who ran Sea World would all die prolonged an painful deaths. Amen.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:02 PM

    Perfect idea! They should show us how safe it is to swim with them. They are wild animals and unpredictable. And they are idiots because whenever an animal has experienced breeding they can become dangerous and unpredictable. They are probably too stupid to even realize that there is a female in heat or something that sets the male off.......but if he used his penis he has the testosterone levels to make him aggressive. They have proven how stupid they are. I used to think it was the greatest thing to be able to see these Killer Whales at Seaworld.......My favorite animal. But realizing all of the realities behind this I can't agree with it. I think it is shameful to sit in an audience and watch them perform and live in tanks and get fed fish for tricks. It's wrong. You shouldn't contribute to this inhumane life. Just like the one guy said....he doesn't want his daughter to think it is normal or ok to see these magnificent animals in tanks.

  • Temika | November 26, 2013 1:59 PMReply

    This movie is amazing... at the same time it made me embarrassed to be a human. How shameful that there are people in the world that think that treating another living, breathing soul like that is ok!

  • KEELS1 | November 20, 2013 1:36 PMReply

    What is the reasoning Seaworld does not just retire Tilikum? Maybe try to release him? The only conclusion I can come to, is Money. Tilikum IS is fact killing trainers....yet Seaworld is fighting to get him back in the water with trainers???????? huh??? Why would they even ask for that unless they are only in it for the money. If They truely cared about Tilikum, they would want what is BEST for HIM..not themselves...This whole thing show's their callasness and greed on an epic level. I am ashamed to be a human...I am just ashamed all the way around. I URGE all the people in every city, in every country around the world to get involved in fighting Seaworld....WE THE PEOPLE CAN win this battle...I am ashamed again because I signed a perition on Change.org. The opening page said we need 1million signatures....yet, with 7BILLION humans on this earth...we can't fine 1 million to sign a petition?? What is wrong with us that we are so selfish and self absourbed that we can't [or don't] think or care about what we are doing to animals....ALL animals, on a daily basis....We are too busy to get involved....why??? Have any of you seen a Seaworld show? I watched one on utube the other day...the music was sooooo loud and horrible, I literally had to turn the Sound off.....I had a headache. Yet These whales/dolphins/seals ect.....have no choice but to listen alllll day every day, could any of you imagine? That alone should/would drive them absolutely insane..I am crying and I am ashamed....I hope we all are touched enough and sad enough by this story to get involved......I beg you all...

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:06 PM

    Never thought about the music. Their sense of hearing is more intense than ours. That music could be agitating them.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:04 PM

    Seaworld doesn't want trainers in the water with Tili. They know he is dangerous. They want them back in with the others. But after taking babies from them it is stupid and dangerous. No wonder they are attacking. The animals are associating bad experiences with humans. They have destroyed these animals.

  • Danielle | November 13, 2013 3:24 AMReply

    Hmmm, so many humans in here who live up to their true colours.
    I find the study of human beings the most enjoying and when it comes down to all living creatures I must say humans win hands down without any competition from any other thing on this planet, what I find so hard to come to grips with is how so many humans feel they are above all else which just goes to show the attitudes of the many, not difficult to see why so many humans have no respect for much else, not even themselves.
    I would love to cage you all for a while to see how you would fair out with being held in that way.
    It comes to me with no surprise why I have to take sides with such intellectual animals before most humans and no wonder why I feel ashamed at times to be a human being myself but at least I have the knowledge of the many negative beings I have to live amongst.
    Oh! Yeah, you may call me a moron or whatever you like as my brain can handle the petty things that others like to sling at me but you will only be confirming what you have just read, have you noticed anything with your attitude and why you are the way you are in yourself.
    Now ask yourself what your intelligent level is.
    Sad isn’t it, so who is the intellectual animal now.

  • jackie | February 20, 2014 6:09 PM

    What would be best is to see them fined for their original acts taking them from the wild. WA should have fined them big and sued them to put them back! It should be determined illegal to take them from the ocean. They are not in danger in the ocean. They are in danger at Seaworld.

  • Heather | November 12, 2013 8:10 PMReply

    An amazing documentary with facts to support any doubts about the film and their obtaining of information. To Rusty: I believe it was extremely important to include where Tilikum had come from because being knowledgable of orcas, which we would assume a marine park is, you would know that the whale has indeed been traumatized and could be mentally disturbed. Thus creating a hazard for trainers and as shown and described in the film, he actually did kill someone prior to Seaworld, proving my point. It did not matter if the history of Tilikum was "pre-Seaworld", the history would lead scientists to assume the whale was mentally unfit for training. So they had all the red flags that this whale should have been released to the wild and regardless, still went through with the purchase of Tilikum. I loved Orcas before Shamoo, so to assume people wouldn't care about this film without Seaworld or even know about orcas in the first place is completely ignorant.

    I was so deeply inspired by this film. People deserve to know the truth about these marvelous animals! Words can not explain how happy I am that a film like this was finally made. Even in the "Free Willy" movie era, I got the notion that captivity for these animals is a terrible, awful idea. Hopefully this knowledge and truth about orcas can be learned around the world, because this magnificent, intelligent creature deserves to be know for what it truly is: not for entertainment, but for the astounding qualities it has as an animal. I loved this film I plan on sharing it to everyone I know! Hopefully there is a bright, no marine park life ahead of us!

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:11 PM

    Funny how they refused to be interviewed but they were quick to try these assertions. Why didn't they cooperate with an interview then?

  • Rusty | October 28, 2013 9:11 PMReply

    I just finished Blackfish, what a documentary. I'm not sure if I'd ever go back to Seaworld again. That said, here's what I found weak about the film.

    Clearly, Seaworld care more about the well being, strike that keeping the whale alive than trainer's life, if not the first thing they'd do is shoot the whale to save the trainer, it's a no brainer.

    It's pretty much revolved around a few former trainers and expert witness against Seaworld. Many things were manipulated to make the audiences feel sorry for the whale, which is unnecessary. There's no need to show the capture of the whales 40 years ago because it's not what Seaworld is practicing, short clips would be enough unless the film maker was shooting for something else.

    While I don't think I'd returned to Seaworld I still think that SW did a good job sending positive message about large marine mammals, orcas, dolphins, etc. That's why this documentary is effective, if no one cares about Shamoo this film would be just another blah, blah, blah.

  • jackie | February 20, 2014 6:16 PM

    You seem to miss the point why they have not killed him. MONEY. The money they make off of him is more important than human lives and humane conditions. That is the only reason.

    I disagree.....it was important to see the original facts of capture. It has realistic impact that opens the eyes of people brainwashed by SW. You are brainwashed. For one.....how can you believe they kept Tili alive because they are such good people. You don't realize its about money? Since when does any corporation act from kindness and not profit? You are a fool.

  • Loren beatty | October 27, 2013 10:57 PMReply

    Sorry this is a bit late...but to Kevin...you are the very definition of an internet troll...

  • Gonda | February 10, 2014 12:52 PM

    @ Loren, that is exactly what I think. Kevin is a troll with nothing better to do then voice uneducated nonsense.

  • Brandon | October 26, 2013 10:19 AMReply

    This is what I've been saying for years about dogs, cats, cows, horses and pigs! We should free all animal slaves! We should all follow the vegan lifestyle and love each other.

  • Dan | October 25, 2013 3:00 PMReply

    SeaWorld is spending their effort spuirting "PR ink," rather than addressing the "reality" of how large marine mammals live, interact and function within a artificial existence that cannot mimic or adequately reflect their natural environment.

    If their were a "progressive" zoological organization that really cared about how Killer Whales should live they would have made enclosure modifications, social group selection, and public learning programs reflect how Killer Whales live in the wild (i.e. SD Wild Animal Park) vs. create "entertainment" shows that only serve to generate revenue.

    Let's get real, SeaWorld is an entertainment, merchandising machine that uses (extorts) marine mammals for profit, not conservation. It's outreach for marine rescue and rehab is noble, but does not alter their treatment of Killer Whales.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:21 PM

    It is slavery. They kidnapped/stole these animals and made them slaves for their profits. Any one that can agree with what they do is LOST

  • kameron | October 24, 2013 11:27 PMReply

    Would love to share this article on Facebook. It looks as though it doesn't work. This needs more support and these parks need to reevaluate their methods.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:21 PM

    You can copy the link and post it

  • Heidi McKillop | October 24, 2013 10:49 PMReply

    I found this documentary moving and heartfelt. I believe it is our duty to our planet and to our wild life to protect these amazing creatures. It is clear that the documentary was one-sided however this representation is a reflection and mirror to our current values in society; this is what makes it so emotional to watch. I hope there can be a balance between protecting these fascinating creatures while also giving them the respect and space they deserve. How do we protect them from poachers and humans who will destroy their natural habitat? I believe both captivty and the wild are dangerous places. Captivity it seems is unnatural, exploitive and extremely harmful to these animals; I think the trainers in the documentary should come together use their knowledge and compassion to make a safe reservoir for Orcas to exisit.

  • for the animals | October 24, 2013 5:06 PMReply

    To kevin: yes humans do perform as well. However, the difference is that we choose to. We give consent to be rewarded for performing; animals cannot give their consent. Humans do what they want when they want to animals to make a profit at the expense of the animals quality of life. It is simply not ethical.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:23 PM

    Isn't it amazing what people say and believe. They don't think before they post or speak. Too bad you had to point out the simple concept of CONSENT

  • none | October 6, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Unreadable due to colors.... did you ever look at it????

  • Michael | August 11, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    Why did Apple Trailers drop listing Backfish under the "opened now" and from the "Top Reviewed from Rotten Tomatoes" listings?

  • dale.starnes | July 23, 2013 8:37 PMReply

    I find it interesting that the text here on the first page of this article is hidden by a blacked background. Hacked?

  • s topan | August 27, 2013 12:29 AM

    thats what I was thinking!

  • John | July 19, 2013 7:52 PMReply

    Well, what do you expect when you take a hyperintellegent apex predator, give it the orca equivalent of PTSD at a early age, and trap it in a small, featureless enclosure with only occasional exposure to its own kind? I'm more surprised it hasn't killed every living thing it can reach from its tank.

    To the "oh wahhh, why do they keep calling them killer whales?" crowd: Look, I've seen footage of orcas in the wild, and they are TERRIFYING. Great Whites don't have shit on Orcas. I've seen them tear 500 pound sea lions in half and then play elaborate games with the twitching, half-alive carcass. The only reason any trainer survives any encounter with an orca is because orcas can tell the difference between "half-monkey in suit that give me delicious fish when I do what it asks" and "tasty seal TO RIP APART".

    And to the dude who said "oh they're animals, we can do what we want": look, I'm an omnivore. I raised cattle from a young age, and I've looked a creature in the eyes before killing and eating it, unlike most other human carnivores in the first world. But your attitude is crap. We are part of the circle of life, not its master, and cetacea are fellow apex predators that show learned behavior and intelligence beyond any other non-human animal, primates included. We owe it to them to treat them with dignity.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:29 PM

    Yes! They have to cooperate to get fed! They do it for food. In the wild they do what is natural to be fed. In captivity they have to cooperate for food.

    Ya......"we can do what we want?" REALLY? I can't believe the ignorance of the people defending SW! They are an embarassment for SW! Hilarious!

  • Lydia | August 28, 2013 4:43 AM

    Very well said. Thank your for saying so eloquently what I was thinking.

  • Shannon | July 29, 2013 8:42 PM

    Beautifully said, John.

  • Shannon | July 29, 2013 8:42 PM

    Beautifully said, John.

  • Shannon | July 29, 2013 8:41 PM

    Beautifully said, John.

  • Matt | July 27, 2013 8:18 PM

    Now that is a comment. Utterly superb. Kudos man

  • Kevin | July 22, 2013 4:34 PM

    My attitude is crap. Why? just because I don't bleed for whales? We have elephants doing tricks in the circus and monkeys, and dogs, and all sorts of animals performing regularly for people. If I capture a whale, feed it, care for it, teach it, and educate the public about it, I am a bad person? How come you and so many others seem to know what orcas are thinking and feeling? You don't know shit! Get a life and go watch a seaworld show.

  • Helen | July 19, 2013 9:53 PM

    Marry me

  • Kevin | July 19, 2013 2:59 PMReply

    I don't really care if they are captive or not. Next thing you know someone will be bitching about killing cows for hamburger meat or chickens for food. They are animals and we can do with them whatever we want. I can't believe the thousands of people who get their panties in a wad for some whales!

  • Kathy | February 20, 2014 6:44 PM

    " I have people who love me and think I am great whether I agree with them or not you bitch."

    I have a very hard time believing that. I believe people may tolerate you but they don't love you. They probably avoid you. And if they read what you posted here they would probably believe something like this would come from you.

    Look at how you made fake accounts to post obscene comments. You are very immature. I don't believe there are people that love you. And I believe you know it is a lie when you posted it. WE are ENTITLED to our opinion just like you are yours. And you had to find this for what reason? I know.....because you are a miserable human that needs to fight with people on the internet. You find postings that you can pick fights with people and this is how you deal with your misery and loneliness.......and why you are so angry with other humans. Because people do NOT like you so you hate people.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:40 PM

    "JOHNAAY2YOU | AUGUST 25, 2013 11:09 PM

    these wales are killing trainers panties should be be in a f ing wad."

    More proof there is something wrong with you. You are a miserable human being and the world would be much better off if you got to face a man that thinks like you and takes your life and removes you from this earth. You are sick, evil and miserable and it shows in your posts. MISERABLE! and take it out on innocent animals! Here to screw with people because you are so miserable. Even people that don't care have enough intelligence to NOT post what you did. Yours is the most ignorant post here. And taunting people shows even more of your ignorance. That you have nothing better to do but taunt people on the internet and screw with them about something they are standing up for. You are a follower. Most people wouldn't even like your company. Which is why you are here posting the way you do. Because even the people you know in life think you are a miserable negative person and have no interest in you. I highly doubt you have many people in your life that would agree with the evil you spit out of you. So you turn to the internet to F*** with people because you can't do it in your personal life. You are lonely and bored and miserable and have all kinds of time to now hang out here f**ing with people. It shows the kind of person you are. You are an open book. Miserable, sick and evil. And now everyone here knows it.

  • Jackie | February 20, 2014 6:32 PM

    Are you for real? You are a sick person. Animals and can do with them whatever we want? You are a lucky being that you are a human and can't talk that way because if you were anything other than human you would be a victim to your own belief. I hope you meet a human that feels they can do what they want with you and you get to experience what you so believe.

  • keels1 | November 20, 2013 1:42 PM

    wow....there will come a day when you get it. It may not be now...but you will...and when you do...you will be ashamed. I promise you that.

  • Heather | November 12, 2013 8:27 PM

    Donna, your reply was PERFECT. This Kevin guy really is just a small example of straight garbage our society carries around only to bring us down. Now Kevin you are so uneducated about this subject you should not have even attempted to voice your pathetic worthless opinion at all. Cows are used for a purpose, food; while orcas or other entertainment animals are used for just that: entertainment. Which would be fine if they were treated humanly. You claim "we know what whales are thinking" in a negative way. We may not know exactly but there is this thing called study, I know you are not too familiar with, and what you do is record data that may allow us to understand what the reactions an animal is having to a certain situation. Study is also what was used to find statistics of how many sit-on-your-ass folks like you there are in America. You deserve nothing less than a horrible life if you can not see what life is truly about and the beauty every creature holds. I feel upset I even wasted my precious time replying to your un-knowledgable post. So please take your uneducated scumbag self to something more your style: anything that doesn't require insight. Oh and please do everyone a favor and go back to school and make yourself a better person so we don't have to deal with low-lifes like you!

  • johnaay2you | August 25, 2013 11:09 PM

    these wales are killing trainers panties should be be in a f ing wad.

  • Yer Whalecum | August 10, 2013 3:04 AM

    idk if you noticed, but you're a fucking moron.

  • Kevin | July 31, 2013 12:17 PM

    Fuck you Donna. I am garbage because I don't agree with you about the precious whales? As far as performing goes, we all perform for treats, humans included. we perform and we get rewarded. Why should any other animal be any different? Why does it matter if someone raises whales in a sea park for entertainment? Explain why that is wrong? Just because you think so and I don't? Some people think it's wrong to use any living thing for enjoyment, food, etc. I don't think it is, so that makes me garbage? You are good at name calling and insulting people when someone does not see things your way. I am not garbage nor do I need luck. I have people who love me and think I am great whether I agree with them or not you bitch.

  • DONNA | July 26, 2013 1:04 PM

    KEVIN you truly are what you call garbage in our society I should capture you and other brainless humans like yourself and educate you maybe you will learn a trick or two for me and the better half of our society you might just get a treat good luck a person like you truly needs it

  • Predator | July 22, 2013 10:17 AM

    You're an animal too, Kevin. Mind if I kill you and eat you? Think you might.

  • Benny | July 20, 2013 9:13 PM

    You're a fucking moron

  • STFU | July 20, 2013 12:12 AM

    You're a fucking moron

  • James Shitburger | July 20, 2013 12:12 AM

    You're a fucking moron

  • David Neiwert | July 19, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    'Blackfish' was the name given these creatures by the Native Americans of the Northwest Coast, who saw them as a kind of people under the sea (in coastal mythology, they had their own tribes and longhouses). It's an honorary and mythological name.

  • To Kevin From Patrick | December 29, 2013 7:10 AM

    Kevin, I don't think you're a moron, but i do think you're weighing in on this conversation without seeing the documentary. It's hard me to believe that you could be espousing everything you're saying after watching it. I went to Sea World as a kid and loved seeing an Orca up close, hell, I even bought a little stuffed animal. However, having learned more about the origins of Sea World and listened to the heart wrenching stories of those who captured infant Orcas, the former trainers, and biologists it leaves me feeling moved to see this treatment stopped, more moved than seeing an Orca up close doing tricks. I have a better understanding and appreciation for the whale and that understanding leaves me wrecked and disgusted by the inhumanity of it all. It's sad, cruel and deeply disturbing. I think there is a visceral and indignant response to your comments because to most people this is an urgent, moral obligation with the hope that Sea World as an institution is expunged from existence. Just the clip of a mother crying for her child will, whether you admit it or not, penetrate your heart.

  • Keir | July 19, 2013 8:45 AMReply

    Dark font on a black background. Was this done on purpose?

  • anne | July 17, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    I am sickened by all of this.
    We all have visited Sea Worlds , our zoos and its pains me to see any animal captive.Would you not?
    I will have to seee this to hae more of a comment on it , however bottom line stop taking animals from their environment and stop be back yard breeding for lots.
    We as humans always want to make a buck and Children we choose to have.
    Does not mean animals do , just to fill our pockets so sad.
    Please support your local animal shelters and dont wear furs!

  • joe | July 17, 2013 11:51 AMReply

    As a zoologist I have to ask, WHAT ZOOLOGICAL FACILITIES?! I've never heard of them! Which outside body regulates all of this and makes sure everything is being checked and above board? People are not as ignorant as Sea World would like to think!

  • Bea Elliott | July 17, 2013 1:17 AMReply

    I live 38 miles from Sea World and would never consider spending my time/money supporting this place. How horrible to steal sentient beings from their homes and/or "breed" them for entertainment. Haven't we humans enough "toys" to amuse us without imprisoning others?
    Sea World's property would make a fine orange grove again. Please leave Florida!

  • rose | July 16, 2013 7:46 AMReply

    por favor dejenlos libres a estas pobres orcas!!!

  • tricia donegan | July 16, 2013 4:05 AMReply

    Sea World should be given a shovel @ keep digging that hole they have made for themselves They can not justify what they do NO species should be kept in prisons > @ they R saying they R breed in captivity ,whats the difference / Look at the Goldfish bowl they swim in/I hate to say it maybe there is a reason they R attacking their trainers

  • hank | July 15, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    SeaWorld is just digging a deeper hole of lies. Eventually they will have to buckle and do right by stopping the orca program. But it will take a lot of pressure to get there.

  • mister monk strap | July 15, 2013 7:19 PMReply

    I think there's an error in your reporting. I believe David Koch pulled funding from WNET, not WNYC, for airing the documentary Park Avenue. WNYC is mostly a radio station.