‘Blackfish’ and Why SeaWorld Needs to Empty the Tanks

Lisa Waugh

This documentary is so powerful that musical acts have dropped out of performing at SeaWorld. Willie Nelson, Heart, REO Speedwagon…look I’m just as shocked as anyone that this is one of the places you have to play even if you’re a legend. But the shock here is the depiction of purposeful cruelty by SeaWorld toward orcas.

The crooked fin is a sign of distress and most orcas in captivity have them

Schools are cancelling field trips and people are staying away from the once popular parks.

Once you watch Blackfish, you’ll know why. Heartbreaking. Irresponsible. Horrific.

These words flash through the mind the entire run of the film as former staff talk about the way in which orcas are snatched from the sea, basically traumatized for life and then forced to perform, putting trainers, the public and other orcas in danger.

I’ve always been a hater of the zoo, the circus, horse rides, donkey rides and specifically SeaWorld. There is no reason to entertain ourselves by dominating other species in this manner. And the way that orcas are treated for the amusement of humans is simply unnecessary. You can save the story about conservation, preservation, etc. I simply don’t buy it.

When highly-experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by the orca Tilikum, many veterans who had worked with the whale weren’t surprised. Tilikum was suspected of attacking a trainer before at a defunct park in Florida over a decade prior. He was sold to SeaWorld anyway.

When you learn of Tilikum’s capture as a pup, his treatment and torture, Brancheau’s death was practically guaranteed.

But Tilikum’s treatment is not out of the ordinary. According to former SeaWorld trainers, orcas are held in small tanks, mixed with unfamiliar pods and separated from their babies. All of the things you don’t do to killer whales. Or anyone or anything.

It’s sickening and heartbreaking to know what happens to these orcas every day. And it’s time for SeaWorld and all animal-based entertainment to shut down. Give these animals their freedom and then set about entertaining yourselves.