Just when you think it’s over, the efforts begin again. Animal activists, lead by Blackfish “expert” Naomi Rose have convinced 38 U.S. Representatives to sign a letter calling for the “humane treatment” of Orcas in captivity and even call into question the feasibility of keeping the animals in captivity. Is this another strike against SeaWorld or is it just another desperate attempt by Blackfish supporters to stay relevant?
In the letter, the members of congress calls for action against not only Orcas in captivity, but also a call against all marine animals such as dolphins, and swim with dolphin programs. Not surprisingly the only piece of “scientific evidence” the letter calls into action is the documentary Blackfish. The film is a manipulative piece aimed solely at misinforming the masses about the “evils of SeaWorld” which was put together by angry ex-employees, and animal rights activists.
Since the film’s release, several trainers who worked of the film have come out speaking about how their interviews were used out of context, to not only further their agenda, but it also used “facts” that were flat out wrong, such as the animals being captured from the wild, and ripped from their mothers. The film calls for the closing of zoos such as SeaWorld and the release of animals into the wild, who were born in captivity.
While all that sounds great for a Hollywood film, the process is very cost prohibitive and not guaranteed to work. The most recent animal to be released, Keiko from the Free Willy films, died only five years after being released into the wild after failing to be reintroduced to a new pod, or his original pod. This was something that Naomi Rose herself has gone on record of saying that if SeaWorld were involved, the whale would still be alive. Sound science has proven time and again that once an animal is in captivity and use to human care, the chances of survival in the wild are very slim. We’ve had people comment that “while Keiko died, he lived free for five years”. It’s an insane outlook that basically condemns a majestic and threatened species to death.
This isn’t the first time this year that politics have been involved in the legal process of releasing animals. Earlier this year a measure was proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (up for re-election in 2014) to ban Orca shows. The ban was essentially struck down and put up for further review after officials deemed that there wasn’t enough evidence to call for a ban. While it seems serious, it appears that the ban was nothing more than an attempt at pushing a hot button topic for re-election. In fact, it appears that the majority of the representatives on the list are up for re-election.
Here on Behind the Thrills we’ve been supporting SeaWorld through Blackfish since the beginning, while many other websites remained silent. That has garnered us a lot of hateful and angry responses from Blackfish supporters, and PETA activists. We use a Facebook commenting system, which shows us where the majority of the activists are from. Over 82% of all negative comments come from the Pacific Northwest (Northern California, Oregon, Washington State). While there was negativity from several states at first, that has died down as SeaWorld has been releasing their Facts about Blackfish (click here). The strongest comments still come from the Pacific Northwest, an area that has not been affected by SeaWorld at all. The point is this-In those areas, captivity is a hot button topic. The majority of the representatives who have signed are from those states, where they seemingly have nothing more important to worry about. Also the the majority of the representatives are up for re-election this year. Coincidence?
Assemblyman Richard Bloom is also up for re-election this year.
If blackfish was not such a hot button film, and these politicians were not up for reelection, would they be making a big push for these regulations and changes? My best guess is no.
Another thing to consider, the lead OSHA investigator, is herself, under investigation after allegedly receiving gifts and trips and even allegedly leaking important confidential information about the case to the makers of Blackfish. That is something that is not only illegal, but also calls into question the validity of the case. If an OSHA investigator is willing to kill an entire case for a trip to a film premiere, what is a state representative up for re-election willing to do? Are we saying to look into the main campaign contributors? No, but I wouldn’t be surprised of one or more of them were the makers of Blackfish or their supporters.
I don’t have all the answers, I’m an entertainment writer about theme parks, on a theme park website. We do not pretend to be your best source for information about the captivity of animals. What we do know is what we see. We’ve been behind the scenes at SeaWorld, we know several trainers personally, and we’ve seen the love and care for these animals. They are well taken care of, they are treated humanely, and they only do what they want. If an animal that size does not want to do something, you’re not going to force it do it. If you starve them, they will react in a negative manner. They don’t.
The bond between trainer and animal is a special one, almost as close as between a parent and child. The trainers see the differences in each whale, and adjusts the training regiment accordingly. The only responses the trainers give are positive responses. When the animals behave in a manner that is not wanted, the trainers simply do not acknowledge that behavior.
Whether you agree or disagree with animals in captivity, before attacking an organization like SeaWorld, make sure you look at the argument from all possible sides. If you have the opportunity, we highly recommend that you talk to a trainer, and see the animals in a capacity other than in a show.
Video-Get up close with Shamu at SeaWorld Orlando
The biggest problem with a film like Blackfish is that it really is manipulative, and works on emotions rather than fact. Not only is the work that SeaWorld does with orcas entertaining, it’s important. The trainers learn a lot about the animal’s behavior, and why they may do certain things in the wild. Most importantly, every day people can make a connection with an animal that can inspire them to do more for animals and the environment.
Video-SeaWorld trainer talks about the importance of working with whales
We urge you to speak to your local congress representatives and tell them to do more research, and not rely solely on the word of a Hollywood produced film to make important political decisions.