Recently, Casey and I watched Blackfish. I went into it with an open mind because we had talked a bit about it since we heard about it, and both of us thought that most people would just agree with everything they had to say, even though it would likely be a really biased film. Well, even after going into it with an open mind, I still have to say that I don't really care for the idea of holding wild animals captive and breeding them for entertainment/money making purposes.
I hated the story of them capturing the whale "tilikum" and taking him from his mother when he was a baby. I can't understand why that man didn't just refuse. Maybe because he valued his job but once he started thinking "hmm how legal is this?" He should have stopped. Clearly he feels bad now and I feel for him but it was a terrible thing to do.
After Tilikum killed that girl in Sea Land, one would think they would either release the whale or put it down, but obviously people see dollar signs instead so he was sold to Sea World.
So this massive whale arrives at Sea World. They have a bunch of ex sea world trainers on there, talking about their experiences. One thing I did not know, was there was more than 1 Sea World park. There are a few I guess. And they have used Tilikum to breed and basically half of the whales owned by sea world are related to this whale. I seriously think they could have probably left out the gigantic whale penis being 'milked' for its extremely valuable semen. I'd hate to have THAT job!
They talk quite a bit about the fact that the trainers literally know nothing but what the sea world people tell them about these whales. Basically they're told that it's just like training a dog. Except it's a 5000 lb bull whale. I have to admit though, way back when I was like 8 years old, I remember hearing about Sea World from my friends and thinking how amazing it would be to be one of those trainers who get to interact with the whars. For a while, it was sort of my life goal. Glad I didn't follow through with that one! Anyway, these trainers apparently weren't aware that Tilikum had killed a woman before.
So then they talk about how after the mother has their baby, they let it stay with her for like 4 years and then they FRIGGING TAKE IT AWAY FROM ITS MOTHER!!! I think that is probably the most horrible thing on Sea Worlds list of crimes. Mothers and children whales stay together for life. They swim in a pod together. For life. It was the saddest thing ever when they said that they took this baby whale away and it's mom was so upset that she just floated in the corner of one of the tanks and screamed. They said that they brought in scientists to look at her, and they said that the noises she was making were long range signals. She was calling for her baby! And they do this all the time!
I didn't find their 'punishments' were bad when the whales didn't cooperate in a show. They just didn't reward them and basically made eye contact for like 3 seconds. Unless they did some other form of punishment that I didn't see (as I was multitasking during the movie).
So then they talked about some guy jumping the fence to the park and stripping off naked and going for a swim with Tilikim. First of all, he picked the wrong tank to swim in. Second, was he on crack? Seriously?? They said he was found the next day, draped over the whales back being paraded around the pool. He was pretty badly disfigured I guess.
Then, not very many years ago, Tilikum killed his trainer after a show. Like brutally attacked her. It said that they could tell something was wrong with him during the show, and when the trainer took him out to the back pool to have 'bonding time' or something with him, where she lays on the side of the pool and praises him and talks and pets him, he pulled her in by her arm and killed her. All the trainers on the video say she was one of the absolute best trainers. They were shocked at what happened to her. She was completely mangled. Sea World tried to blame the trainer, saying it was her pony tail that provoked the whale to attack and kill her. Even though she and other trainers had worn pony tails for years and had no issues. I can't believe they would try and make it out to be her fault. She's dead and can't even defend herself! J
Finally, the last attack they talked about was when Tilikum pulled his trainer down to the bottom of the tank and held him there. When he let the trainer surface, he didn't panic. He just talked and tried to calm the whale. Then he grabbed him and hauled him back down. He did this until they were able to get a net across the pool and the trainer was able to get across it and swim to the side to get out. But the whale followed him and STILL tried to grab him.
After that, it became manditory that trainers must be behind a barrier when with the whales. They can't get in with the whales at all. I guess that Sea World is appealing that in court. To let their trainers back in the water.
Throughout the entire span of ordeal after ordeal, basically the company has tried to hide and lie so that things don't look as bad as they are. They are actually trying to blame the trainer who was killed, saying it was her fault because she was wearing a pony tail, and that he dragged her in by it, even though the video footage says otherwise.
I have a few thoughts, as usual. First, these are wild animals. They are not pets. It is NOT like training a dog. If you take a wild animal out of its home and try to force it to do what you want, there is a chance you'll get hurt. It would be the same case if it were a tiger, whale, bear,
Shark, or any predator.
Second, you put these whales, who are used to swimming miles and miles a day, in a pool, they're gonna go a bit nuts.
Third, you start ripping apart mother baby dynamics. Creating stress where it doesn't need to be created.
Fourth, you have a whale that has killed several times and you're still doing shows with him.
To me this all spells a recipe for disaster. And it was a disaster. People died!
I am against capturing wild animals and holding them captive. The only time I'm ever really okay with holding a wild animal is when they were injured/rescued and wouldn't be able to return to the wild.
I think that Sea World should have to stop breeding the whales. I think that they should be able to keep the ones that they have, to live out their lives. I think they should have to make their habitats larger. I think they should be able to keep doing shows, but remain separated physically from their trainers. After all the whales are gone, I think sea world should look elsewhere for their money making means.
I don't know that I would never go back to Sea World because of this. I've only been there one time, when I was 12. Like I said before, I don't care for the idea of captive wild animals, and this movie has only made my thought on that stronger.
In conclusion, I think Sea World should have to own up to what has happened under their watch. I think they should have to change and ultimately end things with the whales. But, I'll probably still end up going to sea world because I liked the rides.