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Blackfish Response to SeaWorld 69 Critique

Blackfish Response to SeaWorld 69 Critique

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Published by Tim Zimmermann
A point by point deconstruction of SeaWorld's latest attempt to critique and discredit the depiction of killer whale captivity in Blackfish.
A point by point deconstruction of SeaWorld's latest attempt to critique and discredit the depiction of killer whale captivity in Blackfish.

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Published by: Tim Zimmermann on Apr 14, 2014
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07/21/2014

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BLACKFISH RESPONDS TO SEAWORLD’S LATEST CRITIQUE
 
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 co
nclusion 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.
No. Time Stamp Description Misleading and/or Inaccurate
1. :01-- 1:13 Opening Sequence: Under soundtrack consisting of actual 911 calls, five separate pieces of footage combined to depict (1) trainer (presumably Dawn Brancheau) swimming in a tank with a whale (presumably Tilikum); (2) various interactions between the trainer and the whale in the water, including the whale circling trainer; and (3) the whale making aggressive move towards the trainer. The Opening Sequence is false and misleading. It consists of separate pieces of innocuous training and show footage
taken by SeaWorld’s underwater
cameras cobbled together (under actual 911 calls regarding Dawn Brancheau) to mislead the audience into believing it is viewing footage of the fatal incident between Ms. Brancheau and Tilikum on February 24, 2010. However, the Opening Sequence does not contain footage of an attack, and neither Ms. Brancheau nor Tilikum are depicted in the Opening Sequence. In addition, the Opening Sequence casts SeaWorld in a false light, misleading the audience into believing that SeaWorld trainers, including Ms. Brancheau, swam with Tilikum, which never occurred. From the date that Tilikum arrived at SeaWorld in 1993, SeaWorld had special safety protocols for the care and handling of Tilikum which prohibited any employee from conducting waterwork with Tilikum at any time. Evidence: 1. 1/6/93 Memorandum from Brad Andrews (See BF Index #1) 2. Shamu Stadium Orientation Checklist (See BF Index #27) 3. SeaWorld Animal Training SOP Section XI
 Tilikum Protocol (See BF Index #32) 4. References in OSHA Trial Record to Tilikum and his protocols (Testimony of Schaber, Grove & Mairot) (See BF Index #25, 10, 14)
Blackfish Response
 
 This criticism is somewhat puzzling. The film reveals that the trainer in the water was in fact not a victim of an attack at all, but that the interaction was part of a SeaWorld show. It is likely SeaWorld understands the intention of the opening, which suggests that underneath the spectacle lies the reality that any interaction between a killer whale and a trainer can go wrong at any given moment. It is misleading to suggest otherwise. In addition, the voice-
over clearly states that someone is in the pool with “the whale that they’re not supposed to be in the pool with,” so there was no attempt to
mislead people into thinking trainers did waterwork with Tilikum.
2.) 1:40 Introduction to cast member John Hargrove, who throughout Film speaks about Tilikum. Mr. Hargrove worked at SeaWorld San Diego from 1995 until 2001 and SeaWorld Texas from 2008 through August, 2012. Hargrove never worked at SeaWorld Florida, and never worked with Tilikum.
Blackfish Response This statement of Mr. Hargrove's experience is inaccurate. Mr. Hargrove was also a trainer for SeaWorld of Texas during the time period of 1993-1995 as well as a Supervisor of Killer Whale Training during 2001 and 2002 with Marineland in France. Since Mr. Hargrove was a Senior trainer at SeaWorld of Texas during the time of
Ms. Brancheau’s
 death, he was privy to the details of her death. The former trainers in the film talked about their work at SeaWorld, which combined spans the better part of 20 years, and includes knowledge and direct experience at all three SeaWorld parks. Their work histories include direct experience with many SeaWorld whales, including Tilikum, and all have direct knowledge of serious whale welfare issues as well as many incidents of killer whale aggression against trainers. Furthermore, the former trainers discuss information that is corroborated by others who worked at the park, by eyewitnesses, even
by SeaWorld’s own documentation
in many cases. Blackfish also relies on input from diverse individuals and we cover a 40-year span of time. Whether these individuals captured killer whales for SeaWorld decades ago, researched them in the wild or trained killer whales at SeaWorld as recently as 18 months ago, they have independently come to a conclusion that is not favorable to SeaWorld. Attempts to discredit them on this basis are simply an attempt to avoid addressing the uncomfortable facts that they bring to light in the film.
10752.00002/208769.1 1
BLACKFISH ANALYSIS:
Misleading and/or Inaccurate Content
No. Time Description Misleading and/or Inaccurate

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Teresa Wagner added this note
Thank you for writing these facts in response to SeaWorld's exaggerations and lies. It will be shared far and wide.
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