On Friday, I watched the documentary “Blackfish” on CNN. “Blackfish” chronicles the story of Tilikum, an orca that has killed several people during his time in captivity, most recently and notoriously the trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010. The film also reveals the shocking irresponsibility and greed of the sea-park industry.
Growing up during the 1980s and ’90s in Northeast Ohio, I felt so lucky to have a Sea World so close to home. My family and I went every summer, and I remember just being mesmerized by the beautiful creatures there. I had a Shamu plush that I carried everywhere for a few years. For a while, I even wanted to be a marine biologist so I could one day work with Shamu.
I never gave a thought to where the whales had come from and I certainly believed that SeaWorld really cared about the animals and provided the best possible care for them.
Now I feel duped and angry. HOW DARE YOU, SeaWorld? How dare you show so little respect for human and animal life? How dare you market yourselves as family-friendly when all you do is rip families apart?
Oh, I know. It’s all about the almighty dollar. I have a conscience, so I’m not capable of understanding people who can make any sacrifice for money.
The sad part is that while it seems like there’s an easy solution – set the orcas free – it probably is not the answer. Take a look at this New York Times Retro Report about what happened when people tried to release the orca from the film “Free Willy:” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/booming/the-whale-who-would-not-be-freed.html.
So if the answer is not release into the wild, then what? The answer is most likely a long battle for change. The official “Blackfish” site has more information about how you can take action: http://blackfishmovie.com/Take-Action.