Sunday, August 04, 2013


Today I saw the documentary Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite.
A visit to SeaWorld is something millions of Americans enjoy each year. But every so often, a story will make the news about one of the trainers getting injured—or worse killed—and the question comes back: Should we be holding these whales and dolphins in captivity for our own entertainment?
After watching this film, the answer is a resounding "no."
The piece traces the life of one orca, Tilikum, who has killed three humans since humans took him hostage as a two-year-old in 1983. Unlike domesticated dogs who are put down when they kill, Tilikum sees no such punishment, as his sperm is valuable for the breeding plans of the corporation.
What's more nauseating is that the most recent murder was blamed on the victim. I won't get into specifics (in case you haven't heard the story, I fear I'd spoil it), but the whole situation is nothing short of infuriating.
Several former SeaWorld trainers are interviewed here, expressing their horror at the deaths and the lack of real instruction they had going into their jobs (apparently, it was more important that they be physically fit than know anything concrete about the whales). It really is astonishing that more employees haven't been killed, as the accident list is incredibly lengthy.
There are several arguments for why humans shouldn't imprison whales, but the most compelling evidence presented in this film is the testing that was conducted on their brains and the emotional component that was discovered. Put simply: they're like us. They stay with their families. They feel things. They don't want to be kidnapped or trapped or starved just so they'll perform tricks.
Even if you're not an orca lover, you'll feel moved to take action when you see this film, and see it you should.

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