SeaWorld May Lose Killer Whale Shows Thanks to Shocking Documentary (Video)

SeaWorldSeaWorld is known for its killer whales. The orcas are often what draws visitors to the park. At the same time, the company has received much criticism for keeping the whales captive and putting their trainers at risk. Blackfish, a shocking documentary about the killer whales at SeaWorld, has sparked quite a controversy. Now a California lawmaker is pushing legislation that would ban SeaWorld from using the killer whales for entertainment purposes, thus putting a stop to their shows.

Blackfish is a documentary that was released in 2013. It focuses on the killer whales held in captivity at SeaWorld, specifically, it tells the story of Tilikum, the 12,000 pound whale who is known to have killed several people since being held captive. Dawn Brancheau, a senior trainer at SeaWorld was killed by Tilikum in February, 2010. Her family was not involved in the film and say that if she were here today, she would still be working with the animals.

The feature length film was a “labor of love” for director Gabriela Couperthwaite. Blackfish shows shocking footage of killer whales, how they are treated and how they interact with the trainers. The film states that the orcas are “psychologically traumatized” by being held captive for so long and they eventually snap at their trainers. A review of by Variety is posted on the film’s website, which describes it as a “mesmerizing psychological thriller.”

SeaWorld calls the film “misleading.” Protestors have picketed the park and taken to social media sites to boycott the park. The controversy has not affected their profits, however. Trainers have spoken out about the whale’s well-being, saying that they are happy, well-fed and active. Being released into the wild would have detrimental effects on the whales, putting too much stress on them, due to the drastic change of environments.

Marine mammal trainer and former SeaWorld employee, Kyle Kittleson, has also spoken out about the safe treatment of the killer whales at SeaWorld. He defends the company for their humane practices and acknowledges that trainers accept the risk that comes with the job. “There is no harm being done to them,” he said.

He claims that Blackfish is a movie designed to elicit an emotional response and leads people into thinking they can make a difference by boycotting SeaWorld through social media posts. The film is 85 percent inaccurate though, according to Kittleson. He states that the shocking footage is used out of context in several parts of the movie, including a part where a trainer has a bloody face and it is implied that it was the result of a killer whale attack, when in fact, he simply hit a screen on the set of the orca show. He adds that trainers involved with the making of the film are likely disgruntled former employees.

The Documentary, Blackfish, has raised questions about the use of the killer whales at SeaWorld, however. Richard Bloom, a state lawmaker, has proposed legislation that would prevent the company from using the orcas for entertainment purposes. While the park would be able to keep the killer whales in captivity in their tanks, they would be banned from using them in shows and for the purpose of breeding, under the Orca Welfare and Safety Act. SeaWorld has not yet seen the documents, so they were unable to reply. Trainers, however, feel that it would be a better use of people’s passion and energy to save killer whales in danger of extinction, rather than protesting those held in captivity, who are able to bring a learning opportunity to people of all ages in a way that they could not otherwise experience.

By Tracy Rose


Seattle PI
U-T San Diego
News 13

21 Responses to "SeaWorld May Lose Killer Whale Shows Thanks to Shocking Documentary (Video)"

  1. Andrew   January 20, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Think the more trainers these lovely animals kill, the sooner the idiots making money out of these poor captive animals might realise how ignorant they are in knowing how to look after them. And anyone who pays to go see the show, should take a look at their own values.

  2. Jess   October 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I will never take part in the torture of any animal held captive for my own selfish enjoyment.

  3. Bidyut Basu Thakur   October 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I do not think that releasing these animals from captivity will be solution. If we talk about releasing the captive animals, birds etc. all the zoo might as well be closed down. Tigers in India was on the way to extinction. The numbers are increasing now in captivity as well as in reserve forests. I undrestand that the blue whales are born in Sea World. Their natural habitat is also helping them to grow in numbers. Then why close Sea World?

  4. Kadey   September 9, 2014 at 3:05 am

    children don’t have to go to zoos, circuses, or seaworld, they can go to animal sanctuaries – better than what this nab is saying

  5. Alan   June 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Boycott Seaworld until all Orcas are freed – Create an ocean marine habitat for them with access to the sea, allow them to come and go as they please. No more shows. Please do not visit Seaworld until the whales are free.

  6. Justin   April 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I see all this stuff about closing seaworld and zoos altogether but I don’t see the point I understand be at the same time some zoos help repopulate certain species so I say no and for seaworld they do Alot of rehabilitation for marine life so u people can say what you want but I think they do more good then bad and honestly I hope they never close

    • Annie Lafreniere   May 2, 2014 at 7:37 am

      You have no idea of what you’re talking about. Orcas are highly family-oriented mammals; they will stay in their family groups their ENTIRE LIVES. Plus, they travel an average of 100 miles a day. So don’t tell me that being held in captivity and forced to entertain people like you is good for them.

  7. Christine Pedersen   March 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    This guy is living in oblivion. “Seaworld does what’s right for the animals first” he says. Profit comes first for Seaworld. Whether the orcas were taken from the ocean or bred in captivity is irrelevant. Zoos and aquariums are wrong altogether. Why must man make huge majestic animals perform on command at all? Just because we can? Go on whale safari instead. Spend your energy and money ensuring a clean and healthy environment

  8. Bella   March 9, 2014 at 7:36 am

    You really are a deluded to think anybody with a brain is going to buy that bs ^
    We do not deny the trainers have a connection with them, how could they NOT, doing the work they do with them… THAT is admirable.
    They’re not the ones wearing the suits in their cushy offices and collecting the cheques though are they?? gtfoh.

  9. Laura Bruckner   March 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Those of you who believe this documetary was a real documenary should do a little more research into it. Very one-sided and you should look at the facts before you make uneducated comments based on a documentary someone made to make money for themelves.

    • Douglas Brook   March 9, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Bottom line – the whales are held in captivity. Thats wrong. Taking babies from their Mothers is despicable. I think the film makers care more about whales than they do about making money.

      • Laura   March 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

        Absolutely the only thing important here is the quality of life for all creatures. They do not belong in a pool for our entertainment. Period. Exotics don’t belong here and in a cage. They do not belong in our homes They belong in the wild doing what they were born to do and we can observe them there if we are fortunate enough to do so.

  10. Beth Corbet   March 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I watched this documentary with my family and my dog; when the mother and baby whale were separated, and the mother whale was crying, my dog whined also.

    Very well done documentary.

  11. Beth Corbet   March 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Kevin Darty, you are a idiot.

    • Shauna   March 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Idiot doesn’t begin to describe Kevin Darty…

    • kiawase   June 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      there are so many out there …. it is a catastrophy

  12. Tom Wells   March 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

    It is wrong to kidnap animals from their natural environment and hold them in captivity for 10, 20, 30 years and then throw them away to make money for corporations.
    Currently, it is not illegal and that is why they get away with it. That is why they lie about it. That is why they hide documents. That is why they illegally obtain animals from other corporations. That is why they fight against the laws and against those who fight for the rights of these animals. That is why they lie about employess who have been killed.
    It is proven that Orcas in captivy live half as long, or less, as those in their natural environment. Watch the documentary “Blackfish”. Take action against Seaworld and other “entertainment” corporations to free the Orcas AND dolphin. They claim that the animals are well treated. THEY LIE. Animals taken forcibly, cruely from their natural environment then held in captivity, forced to perform several times a day in repetitive performances, day after day, year after year …until death … are not, cannot be animals that are treated well.
    Those businesses can work quite well as aquariums.

  13. H. Tran   March 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

    @Kevin Darty, SeaWorld asks me to let you know that the check is in the mail, and that you’re doing a “great” job. Keep up the good work!

  14. Kevin Darty   March 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

    For some reason I remember reading an article this week where the people responsible for the film admitted that they didn’t have the background experience to consider themselves experts and that they just did the movie “for fun” and thought it was a “hoot”. I don’t seem to have saved the link for the article but it almost seemed like an admission that the movie was a fraud. As someone that goes to SeaWorld pretty regularly I can tell they really care about the animals at the park and the trainers that work with the Killer Whales not only have personal convictions to make them want to help these whales and share their beauty with the world but they also have to undergo extensive training to even do the job. As some of SeaWorld’s Trainers have already pointed out, the movie is inaccurate and I don’t personally believe the film makers had the experience to even understand what they were talking about. They just wanted to start a controversy and that they did accomplish so I guess they did what they intended to do. Another thing to note would be that the OSHA investigator that helped out during the filming of the movie is currently under investigation as their involvement was illegal. There is definitely something “fishy” going on with this and it all has not risen to the surface quite yet.

    • Annie Lafreniere   May 2, 2014 at 7:47 am

      If you guys really “care” about the animals why don’t you let them in the wild at the first place. You should learn to stay silent, you’re only making a complete fool of yourself.

      • kiawase   June 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm

        of course they all say they care; question is not if they do but if this caring makes any difference for the animals. captivity can simply not be good for the great mamals. I think the question if they are kept ‘species-appropriate’ is important and this is easy to answer in this case


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