SeaWorld has issued yet another critique against the film, Blackfish. This critique is more detailed, yet is equally specious and misleading. So, once again, the Blackfish production team has crafted a rebuttal.

What makes this latest effort unique is the timing. It comes on the heels of AB2140, the groundbreaking legislation that seeks to bring an end to “orcas for entertainment” in California.

Although Blackfish served as a portal of entry for the many controversial issues surrounding whales in captivity and trainer safety, the bill was introduced because millions have since chosen to seek their own answers. And they have largely come to the same conclusion as the film: killer whales are not suited to captivity and the trainers who work in close proximity to them aren’t safe (a conclusion reaffirmed by the recent U.S. Court Of Appeals rejection of SeaWorld’s appeal of OSHA’s citations). 

Furthermore, Blackfish exercised considerable discipline in its storytelling, choosing not to cover the many issues that are now surfacing about SeaWorld:

• The administration of benzodiazepine (valium) to many killer whales who are said to be experiencing grief, stress or anxiety.
• The circumstances surrounding the deaths of multiple whales
• The circumstances involving the injuries of multiple trainers
• The scant amount of revenues (roughly .06% of $1.5 billion a year) that SeaWorld puts toward conservation.
• SeaWorld’s ongoing methods of obtaining marine mammals from the wild

Although the attention paid to these issues seems to be growing daily by an increasingly informed public, SeaWorld continues to deny—despite the evidence – that trainers assume an inappropriate amount of risk and that the welfare of its killer whales is compromised by captivity. The issue is not whether SeaWorld has world-class facilities, as it insists at every turn. The issue is whether the care and environment SeaWorld can provide its killer whales can meet their needs and whether trainers left to administer the care can do so safely. Blackfish—by documenting the health issues, the whale-on-whale and whale-on-trainer aggressions, as well as the compromised lives and social experience of SeaWorld’s killer whales—makes clear that SeaWorld cannot give its killer whales lives that are in any way adequate.

That is the core issue raised by Blackfish, and that is an issue that SeaWorld never directly addresses in its critiques of Blackfish or in its public relations campaign in response to Blackfish.

That said, we look forward to the day when they do. We can then stop engaging in these back-and-forth exercises and search for a solution together. We continue to invite SeaWorld to be partners in an open discussion about a new business model, one that evolves away from animals for entertainment toward more dignified and sustainable models.