Saturday, November 26, 2016


Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park i
This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.

Tilikum is seriously ill - says SeaWorld

Tilikum was captured from the wild in 1983 when he was 2 years old. His captivity began at Sealand until they closed and he was bought by SeaWorld. He has remained at SeaWorld ever since, despite the captivity stress he is clearly under.
Sadly, we must now report that Tilikum is very sick and there are concerns for his life. SeaWorld veterinary and animal care teams are worried that his health is deteriorating due to a possible bacterial infection which is very strong and resisting treatment. 
The news broke earlier this week when SeaWorld shared a video in which veterinarian Scott Gearhart reported on his health:
I wish I could say I was tremendously optimistic about Tilikum and his future, but he has a disease which is chronic and progressive and at some point might cause his death

Tilikum is seriously ill - says SeaWorld

A mesmerising psychological thriller with a killer whale at its centre, Blackfish is the first film since Grizzly Man to show how nature can get revenge on man when pushed to its limits. Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the mulit-billion dollar sea-park industry.


Trainers have orca killer whales perform for the crowd during a show at SeaWorld in San Diego on March 19, 2014.MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

SeaWorld plans to phase out its controversial killer whale show at its San Diego location starting next year, amid ongoing criticism about its treatment of the animals, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Tribune reported that the company announced its plan in an online document, which since has been removed from the company's website. The paper also reported that the new orca experience will debut in San Diego in 2017 to replace the "Shamu" show.
The company, which operates 11 theme parks, instead will focus on inspiring guests to focus on conservation, Joel Manby, chief executive of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., said Monday in a webcast. The company will work with public schools to educate 50 million students on conservation in the next five years.
Manby didn't mention the end of the shows at the company's other locations.
The decision comes amid efforts at both the state and federal levels to ban live performances and captive breeding of killer whales.
The marine life park has been under fire since the 2013 documentaryBlackfish examined how the living conditions of whales might cause them to lash out violently against their trainers. The film attempted to find an explanation for three deaths caused by an aggressive killer whale. In the wake of the documentary, protesters called on SeaWorld to end the practice of using whales for entertainment.
The move also comes eight months after Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Brothers, announced that the circuswill be retiring all of its performing elephants by 2018.


SeaWorld San Diego to end Orca shows? not quite.

The internet was flooded yesterday with news that SeaWorld San Diego planned to end its live Orca performances.
Turns out most reports were not completely accurate as SeaWorld San Diego is only phasing out the current version of the show. The Orcas will remain at SeaWorld San Diego and a new killer whale experience will be introduced.
The new show will 'include conservation messaging and tips guests can take home to make a difference for orcas in the wild,' said CEO Joel Manby.
Slate gives a good analysis on what this announcement actually means:
This change has only been announced for its San Diego park, leaving no planned changes at the Florida or Texas parks.
The San Diego Union-Tribune interviewed Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite:
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Cowperthwaite said in a phone interview from Spain, where she’s working on her latest documentary.
“My understanding is that SeaWorld may not be stopping the orca show at all. They may simply be repackaging it so that orcas will perform more natural-looking tricks in new choreographed acts,” she added. 
Blackfish is a 2013 American documentary film directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. It concerns Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld and the controversy over captive killer whales. The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013, and was picked up by Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films for wider release. It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.
The documentary concerns the captivity of Tilikum, an orca involved in the deaths of three individuals, and the consequences of keeping orcas in captivity.[4] The coverage of Tilikum includes his capture in 1983 off the coast of Iceland, and purported harassment by fellow captive orcas atSealand of the Pacific, incidents that Cowperthwaite argues contributed to the orca's aggression and includes testimonial from Lori Marino, Director of Science with the Nonhuman Rights Project. Cowperthwaite also focuses onSeaWorld's claims that lifespans of orcas in captivity are comparable to those in the wild,[5] typically 30 years for males and 50 years for females,[6] a claim the film argues is false.[7] Interview subjects also include former SeaWorld trainers, such as John Hargrove, who describe their experiences with Tilikum and other captive whales.
The documentary reports that the whales have experienced extreme stress when their offspring were captured in the wild or when separated after breeding at water parks. The film features footage of attacks on trainers by Tilikum and other captive whales, and interviews with witnesses.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Response from SeaWorld[edit]

Tilikum at SeaWorld Orlando in 2009.
SeaWorld Entertainment refused to take part in the production of Blackfish, and later claimed the film was inaccurate,[18] saying in a statement:
Blackfish ... is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy .... [T]he film paints a distorted picture that withholds ...key facts about SeaWorld—among them...that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, and that SeaWorld commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research.[19]
SeaWorld responded further with an open letter rebutting the claims.[5] The Oceanic Preservation Society and The Orca Project, a non-profit focusing on orca in captivity, responded with open letters criticizing SeaWorld's claims.[20][21] Marine researcher Debbie Giles also offered rebuttals to SeaWorld, finding its assertions inaccurate.[22]
On December 31, 2013, the Orlando Business Journal posted a poll asking if Blackfish had changed readers' opinions on SeaWorld. The majority of votes stated that the film had not. It was later found that 180 out of 328 votes (55%) originated from a single SeaWorld-hosted IP address.[23] SeaWorld defended the voting, stating that "each of the votes that came from a SeaWorld domain were cast by team members who are passionate about the incredible work SeaWorld does and the experiences our parks provide."[24]
SeaWorld also created a section of its website titled "Truth About Blackfish," addressing the claims stated above and highlighting what it considered other problems with the film.[25][26]
On February 27, 2014, SeaWorld filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, claiming the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator who investigated Brancheau's death had behaved unethically by aiding the filmmakers. Cowperthwaite denied claims of improper collaboration.[27]
In March 2014, Cowperthwaite rebutted a number of claims on SeaWorld's website and challenged SeaWorld officials to a public debate.[28]


Reaction to the documentary prompted the bands and singers HeartBarenaked LadiesWillie NelsonMartina McBride.38 SpecialCheap TrickREO SpeedwagonPat BenatarThe Beach BoysTrace Adkins and Trisha Yearwood to cancel their concerts at the "Bands, Brew & BBQ" event at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa in 2014.[29][30][31][32]
SeaWorld announced afterward it had suffered a $15.9 million loss, which CEO James Atchison attributed in part to high ticket prices and poor weather.[33]
Overall attendance at SeaWorld parks and Busch Gardens declined by 5% in the first nine months of 2013, though it was unclear if the drop in attendance was due to the influence of the film.[27] SeaWorld claimed attendance figures for its three marine parks — Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio — in the last three months of 2013 were at record levels for that quarter.[34]
In response to the film, New York State Senator Greg Ball proposed legislation in New York that bans keeping orcas in captivity.[35] In March 2014, California State Assemblyman Richard Bloom introduced the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, a bill in California that would ban entertainment-driven orca captivity and retire all current whales.[36] In June 2014, U.S.Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jared Huffman attached an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act, requiring theUSDA to update the Animal Welfare Act in regards to cetacean captivity. It passed with "unanimous bipartisan support."[37]The bill allocates 1 million USD to studying the impacts of captivity on marine mammals. Schiff cited Blackfish as raising public concern.[38]


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  18. Jump up^ Pat Saperstein (July 18, 2013). "SeaWorld: Killer Whale Doc 'Blackfish' Is 'Inaccurate'"Variety. RetrievedNovember 30, 2013.
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  20. Jump up^ "Marine Mammal Captivity: The Truth Is in the Facts An Open Letter from the Informed American Public" (PDF).Oceanic Preservation Society. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  21. Jump up^ Costanzo, Amy. "An Open Letter BACK to SeaWorld". The Orca Project. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
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  24. Jump up^ "SeaWorld-Owned IP Address Linked To Majority Of Votes In Newspaper's 'Blackfish' Poll: Report". Huffington Post. January 3, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  25. Jump up^ Parker, Kolten (February 17, 2014). "SeaWorld posts videos in response to 'Blackfish' documentary"San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
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  28. Jump up^ "Blackfish Director Challenges SeaWorld to Debate". EcoWatch. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
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  35. Jump up^ "Sign The Petition To End The Torture". Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. RetrievedMarch 7, 2014.
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  60. Jump up^ "Storyville: Blackfish - The Whale That Killed"BBC. November 21, 2013. Archived from the original on January 29, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 2013The story of a killer whale who has taken the lives of several people while in captivity
Black-and-white picture of an orca (killer whale) with the title Blackfish and credits underneath
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGabriela Cowperthwaite
Produced byManuel V. Oteyza
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Written byGabriela Cowperthwaite
Eli Despres
Tim Zimmermann
Music byJeff Beal
CinematographyJonathan Ingalls
Christopher Towey
Edited byEli Despres
CNN Films
Manny O. Productions
Distributed byMagnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 19, 2013(Sundance)
  • July 19, 2013(United States)
Running time
83 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.3 million[2][3]

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