I highly, highly recommend it.
(Photo from Current.com)
The film is called Blackfish. It was the number one documentary on iTunes in 2013. I'm pretty out-of-the-loop when it comes to movies. I haven't even seen the new Hunger Games movie yet (blasphemy, I know.) So, I had not heard a word about this film. But, it popped up on Netflix this week. I read the description and thought I'd give it a shot. Wow. Just, wow.
The film is about Tilikum, the Killer Whale. He is the largest whale in captivity and he is responsible for three human deaths: including the death of Sea World trainer Dawn Branchaeu. I'm sure you heard all about her death in 2010 because it was all over the news.
I'm not going to tell you everything that happens in the film, because you should see it yourself. But, I will say, never again will I set foot in Sea World or any other park where animals are trained to do circus tricks for paying customers. And, I've been to Sea World. I loved it. I loved the animals and the tricks and the shows and everything about the magical place.
But, I had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes.
The ex-trainers who spoke in the film had harrowing tales of the horrible ways the whales are treated: withholding food, cages that are much too small, taking baby whales away from their mothers, etc. If you go to Sea World, they'll convince you that animals held in captivity live much longer than animals in the wild and that they are much healthier, as well. The sad news is that the trainers aren't lying, that's just what they've been taught to say. They don't even know the truth and they spend their lives working with these amazing animals.
(Photo from magpictures.com)
In the case of Tilikum, pictured above, he was brought to Sea World after he viciously killed a trainer in Canada. No one bothered to tell the whale's new Sea World trainers about his track record. And, as he was a male, the other female whales would bite and attack him daily. So he was either hurt or isolated all the time. The film does a great job of showing how important social contact is to these animals and how psychologically damaging it is when they don't get it. It's awful that Tilikum killed these people, but you can't blame an animal for being aggressive when he's living in a cage like this:
(Photo from PETA.org)
After all, if you lived in a bathtub for 25 years, you'd be a little frustrated, too!
Apparently, this is common practice in aquatic parks: to isolate whales in small holding pens. Here's another example:
(Photo from cbs8.com)
That just breaks my heart, y'all.
I expected to watch this film and never think another thing about it. But, that's not what happened. I've become obsessed! That's how captivating it all was. And heartbreaking, yes.
After doing a little research today, I found that this is all very much still in the news right now! Apparently, a bunch of big singers canceled their upcoming concerts at Sea World because of this film. And, Sea World's PR people are working overtime right now trying to spin this positively, but they're panicking. I'm glad people are taking notice of this situation and putting some pressure on them to stop breeding animals for captivity.
I also bought this book for my iPad:
(Photo from Amazon.com)
I can't wait to dive in and find out more about this topic.
Now, why did I write this blog post? Because, I want you to watch this film. The reviews are excellent, I spoke with real-life friends who have seen it today and they all thought it was great and it's the number one documentary if the year, y'all! Did I mention that already?
You will not regret watching it. And when you're done, let your friends know how great it was. Because, this needs to be a film that everyone sees. If people stop supporting $ea World and other parks, maybe these animals will stop being bred to perform tricks for entertainment.
Watch it, guys. Just watch it.