Blackfish and the captive wildlife crisis

BlackfishThis weekend I saw Blackfish, a new documentary that examines how killer whales are held in captivity by entertainment-based companies like Sea World.

Many parts of this movie are heart breaking to watch. Like when the former whale catchers and whale trainers describe what it was like when they witnessed killer whale families being torn apart and the obvious grief they could see the whales experiencing. In the wild, killer whales stick together as families their entire lives.

The movie examines  a number of other characteristics of these naturally friendly creatures, like how they are are among the most emotionally developed in the animal kingdom, how they have language, and how they live to 60-90 years in the wild. In their tiny tanks being held captive, however, forced to perform for food, killer whales on average only live about 25 years. (This discrepancy in life expectancy in wild vs. captive killer whales is one of many examples of Sea World denying blatant facts, in its ongoing defense.)

The sad truth is that there are dozens of killer whales and other intelligent, emotional mammals forced to live captive by humans for the sole propose of entertainment. In Blackfish, one of the former Sea World trainers states that he is sure in 50 years we will look back and be ashamed of and shocked by our actions — the way we treated some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, for so many generations.

Elephants too, still trained and forced to work for our entertainment in circuses, suffer the same ill treatment. Equally as beautiful as killer whales, elephants were the subject of another eye-opening documentary I recently saw, HBO’s An Apology to Elephants.

For any friends out there thinking of taking your kids to a circus or a theme park with performing sea mammals, I urge you to first take the time to watch one or both of these movies.

Blackfish will air nationwide on CNN on October 24.

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