Greetings again from the darkness. Dogs, cats, fish, birds, hamsters, ferrets, snakes, and even pigs. We love our pets. We also love our zoos, city aquariums and SeaWorld parks. For many years, we have chosen to believe that the research and educational advances that come from these outlets outweigh any of the negatives involved with keeping man’s quest to control wild animals in captivity. Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite shows us (by focusing on SeaWorld) that it’s way past time for us to open our eyes to the cruelty involved with the capture and training of wild animals for entertainment purpose.
The points made here are not speculation. We witness numerous interviews with “former” SeaWorld trainers. It’s clear these people thought they had a bond with their co-performers. Most never even mention the term “killer whale” … the common moniker for the majestic creatures better known as Orcas. The interviews have great impact, and when combined with startling TV news clips and rare footage shot by audience members, it becomes obvious that the huge profits and entertainment offered to families, are quite frankly generated by an immoral and inexcusable business model.
Most of the story is tied together by the 2010 death of super-trainer Dawn Brancheau by Tilikum, the largest Orca in the SeaWorld group. What we soon learn is that Tilikum was captured in Iceland waters at the age of three, and has since had many incidents resulting in injuries and even three deaths. It’s also stated that Tilikum is the head of the family tree for the majority of SeaWorld’s performing Orcas.
Of course, no one can or should blame these incredibly intelligent and emotional and family-oriented creatures. Everything about their existence in captivity goes against their natural habitat and way of life. The real issue is … just because we CAN capture and train these animals, does that mean we SHOULD? If the focus is profits, then the answer is apparently yes. If instead, the focus is respecting nature and valuing other species, then the answer is much different.
The Cove and Project Nim are two other documentaries that come to mind when thinking about filmmakers attempting to expose the danger and cruelty in trying to control nature. Watching this story had me hanging my head like the fisherman from the 1970’s who recalled capturing a young whale as the family members swam nearby crying and screeching … a scene eerily similar to another tragic event shown during the film. Let’s hope director Cowperthwaite’s screams are heard. See this movie before deciding to visit another SeaWorld (who couldn’t be bothered to comment on camera). There are better ways to teach your kids about nature and there are certainly less cruel forms of entertainment.
watch the trailer: