As the World Series rages on, Blackfish has been shown several times on CNN over the past few days. The ratings have shot through the roof as the film ranked #1 in cable news during the debut screening with a total of 1.36 million viewers. The film ranked #1 in page views on CNN films as well.
CNN covered the film with major publicity throughout the week. They repeatedly invited SeaWorld to be part of the conversation, yet they were repeatedly denied. This is the same scenario that Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Blackfish director, faced as she put the film together. David Kirby, author of Death at SeaWorld, experienced the same unwillingness to contribute while researching for his book.
Instead, CNN aired several debates with other spokespeople speaking out in defense of SeaWorld and captivity in general. These debates included input from Jack Hanna, Bill Hurley of Georgia Aquarium (who incidentally has also appealed NOAA’s decision to deny the recent beluga whale import permit) and Grey Stafford. Those who were speaking out for captivity clearly did not bring a strong enough case to justify the practice now that we know better. Hopefully SeaWorld will take note.
CNN conducted a poll, and public opinion has shown an overwhelming 90% now against captivity. This gives SeaWorld the amazing opportunity to be a leader in the industry and do the right thing. Dr. Naomi Rose explains it best as the opportunity to be a win-win situation for trainer safety and orca welfare by creating sanctuaries where captive orcas to be rehabilitated and retired.
It is not realistic to demand that all captive orcas be released since many have been bred in captivity and are not good candidates. However there is no reason why they can’t invite the public to visit these sanctuaries from a safe distance and use current trainers to help these animals adjust to being wild animals again. No shows.
So what’s it going to be SeaWorld? It’s time for you to step up to the plate.