A drug scandal and a massive drop in popularity. Sounds like an episode of E!News right? Rather, it's the latest reports to come out about SeaWorld (in the US).
Leaked documents reveal that SeaWorld trainers give psychoactive drugs to some of their marine animals. The drug – benzodiazepine – is the same stuff used in common human medications Valium and Xanax – to treat anxiety. I don't know about you, but I'm not surprised that animals at SeaWorld might be suffering from mental health issues. I'd be pretty miserable if I had to live my whole life in a bath tub. Keeping highly social and active animals like orcas in small tanks is just cruel.
But on a positive note, looks like people might be having second thoughts about visiting marine parks. SeaWorld has reported a 13% drop in attendance for the first three months of 2014 – almost half a million less people than during the same period in 2013.
And keeping the good news keeps rolling, a CNN poll found that 86% of people said that they wouldn't go to SeaWorld after learning about the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.
The story of Tilikum, a captive orca living at SeaWorld in Orlando, has touched countless people through the documentary 'Blackfish'. Although SeaWorld denies that the documentary is having any impact, the recent drop in visitors tells a different story.
You can make a difference for animals in marine parks simply by not attending them. Besides, there are plenty of ways to get close to animals without having to lock them up for their whole lives. Click here to watch an amazing encounter with a mother and baby whale in their natural habitat.
OMG. I saw Blackfish during the Melbourne International Film Festival and when Madman Films offered us some free tix to giveaway we jumped at the offer. Blackfish is a doco about a performing killer whale named Tilikum who lives in captivity in SeaWorld, Orlando. It is sooooo ... well it’s very sad but also GREAT that Tilikum’s story is being told. Check out the trailer here:
This movie is already having a massive impact in the U.S. A poll by CNN found that 86% of peoplesaid they wouldn’t go to SeaWorld after learning about the cruelty of keeping killer whales in captivity. Orcas are highly social and active animals and keeping them in small tanks (in Tilikum’s case) in isolation is unacceptable.
It’s so exciting that this film is coming to cinemas on November 21, so that Tilikum’s story can continue to reach people. And what’s even more exciting is that YOU get the chance to see it for FREE!*
There's 10 freebie tix all up so we’ll be giving 2 tickets to 1 winner from each of the following states/territories – NSW, QLD, SA, ACT and Vic. (Sorry if you live in WA, NT or Tas but no cinemas are showing Blackfish as yet :( Why not get in touch with your local cinema and let them know that you’d love them to screen it?)
SO, here’s how to win: Comment below with the coolest fact you know about killer whales. The ones that make my eyes pop out the most will be the winners :) The competition closes on Sunday 17th November so DON’T MISS OUT!
*The movie is only screening in 5 states/territories so please check the full list of venues below to make sure there’s one near you before entering the comp.
Last week I went to see the movie Blackfish. It’s a documentary about Tilikum, a whale who has been living in captivity in ‘amusement’ parks since he was 2 years old. If you missed it, here’s the trailer:
Needless to say, I cried and cried and wailed and snorted and hollered “Free Tilly” at the screen.
Orca whales are highly social animals, who swim many many kilometres per day. Yet, poor Tilikum is still living in a tiny tank in SeaWorld, Orlando. And he’s kept in isolation most of the time :(
Thankfully, I am not the only one who has been moved by this incredible documentary and there is hope for whales (and other captive animals) yet!
When the Pixar team saw Blackfish, they realised that captivity is not such a happy ending for animals. They sat down with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and made some drastic edits to the script of Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo, due to be released in 2015). Although little is known of the story line as yet, Pixar has said that while characters do travel to a marine park, they will have the option to go back to the ocean if they choose.
It’s not quite that simple in real life unfortunately BUT it is possible. Remember Free Willy? Willy was played by Keiko, and the movie had such an impact on the public that campaigning led to Keiko being moved to a sea-pen in Iceland waters where he eventually migrated to Norway. Although he was still cared for by professionals, he lived out the remainder of his life with a great deal of freedom.
Animal welfare groups in the U.S. are campaigning to get Tilikum released to a sea-pen and rehabilitated, just like Keiko. (You can add your name to the petition here).
But the best way that you can make a difference is by simply never visiting a marine park that makes animals perform. Just like rodeos and circuses that have animals, using animals for entertainment is unnecessary, and rarely provides animals with an environment that allows them to express their natural behaviours.
Despite the tears, it makes me so happy to see movies like Blackfish being made, exposing the significant problems with keeping wild animals in captivity. Have you seen any good animal documentaries lately? I’d love to hear about them.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.