On February 24, 2010, A killer whale named Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, one of the most experienced trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. This was the third time the whale was involved in an incident resulting in a human death. After hearing about Brancheau’s death, filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s curiosity spurred her to start the film project called Blackfish. The documentary investigates the possible causes of Brancheau’s death, and questions the implications of keeping animals like Tilikum in captivity.
The film made its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in January and has been well received by critics. It recently aired on CNN and the DVD is planned to be released in the U.S. on November 12, 2013. If you haven’t seen Blackfish yet, you need to check it out. The documentary about SeaWorld has been making waves, and not just among animal activist groups.
A student I know from the University of Texas at Arlington, Ann Mai, wrote a great article about the movie for the schools newspaper – The Shorthorn. I was so impressed with the review she did that I asked her if she would be so kind as to share her thoughts about the movie with the ecoveggy readers.
Ann Mai’s review of Blackfish
This documentary will change everything you ever thought you knew about SeaWorld. I mean seriously, even Pixar changed part of their Finding Dory movie script after seeing Blackfish. I saw it while it was showing at The Angelika Theater in Dallas, and it was amazing. It was intense…I had a lump in my throat the entire time.
When I saw the film, I was already aware of the issues and had strong convictions about keeping wild animals in captivity, from personal research and watching The Cove. However, I think Blackfish did a phenomenal job of articulating a very complex topic.
Not only did the documentary highlight the ethical implications of SeaWorld’s practices, but it also addressed the fact that if it was not for SeaWorld, many people would not have the chance to make a connection with these animals. I appreciated the presentation of this nuance. It is nice to be able to visit these animals up close and personal, but if we really care and love these creatures, we must put ourselves in the their position…what is the price of captivity? It’s an ironic issue, because parkgoers are often animal lovers, but they don’t realize what the animals are really going through. In the end, the exposure of the exploitation and the message about our capacity for caring about these amazing creatures is pretty simple, though. Friends who saw the documentary told me it changed their life.
Do wild animals belong in captivity? You can already guess my answer, but I encourage you to see the film and make the conclusion for yourself.
Ann Mai is an interdisciplinary studies senior at UT Arlington, where she works as a life reporter and vegan blogger for The Shorthorn, the university’s award-winning student newspaper. Ann collaborated with other students to start UTA’s vegan club–a welcoming community that aims to provide resources and events for students to learn about the benefits of veganism. Things Ann cares about are animals, human rights and the environment. Her interests include photography, landscape architecture, graphic design and food blogging. To read more of her work, check out her Contently profile, and visit her WordPress blog, The Broccoli Bulletin.