Four years ago, CNN released a heart wrenching documentary, titled Blackfish, that showed the true conditions that SeaWorld’s orcas live in. Blackfish focused its story on Tilikum, a killer whale who was captured at a young age and was held responsible for at least 3 deaths. (Tilikum sadly died January 6th, 2017). The documentary raked in 21 million views according to CNN, and people were livid. SeaWorld’s attendance dropped and countless protests against orcas in captivity began to occur. But what was the true effect of Blackfish?
Blackfish is a documentary produced by CNN that aired on July 19th, 2013. It tells the story of Tilikum, a captured killer whale who took the lives of several people during his life. It shows the process aquatic theme parks such as SeaWorld use to obtain orcas from the wild, includes interviews with former SeaWorld employees, and explains the death of Dawn Brancheau, one of the best SeaWorld trainers who was tragically killed by Tilikum during a Dine with Shamu show in 2013. Its main focus is to bring to light the harm aquatic theme parks bring to marine mammals and show in detail how little we humans know about one of the most intelligent creatures on this planet.
According to this article by USA Today , SeaWorld’s attendance dropped by 14.9% since March 2017. Lower park attendance means the park is making less money. SeaWorld also stopped their orca breeding program in all parks and are working on stopping their orca shows. However, all of the orca’s SeaWorld currently owns will live the rest of their lives in captivity. Activists suggest that all of the orcas be released in to seaside sanctuaries, though SeaWorld is not willing to comply with the idea.
SeaWorld proposed a new plan for their park. They’ve introduced the Orca Encounter, which is supposed to provide a more educational experience than their previous One Ocean and Dine with Shamu shows. The new show is supposed to display orcas in their “natural habitat” and show more behaviors that would be seen in the wild rather than taught tricks. The show opened this summer in SeaWorld San Diego. The downside? Many reviewers say this new show is boring and slow, which means that attendance to the park will continue to decline.
[SeaWorld’s new Orca Encounter Source ]
Animal rights activists are still unhappy with SeaWorld and its business practices. Popular animal rights activist group PETA created a campaign called SeaWorld of Hurt, which has been responsible for several protests. In 2014, activists protested the SeaWorld float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, jumped the barricades and held up signs which proclaimed “SeaWorld Hurts Orcas.” More recently, protesters stormed a pool in SeaWorld’s Aquatica waterpark. The activists wore wetsuits which resembled an orca and stood in the pool with a “SeaWorld Kills” sign.
Learn more about Blackfish here
Official SeaWorld Cares link here
Official SeaWorld of Hurt link here