In 2013, the documentary ‘Blackfish’ exposed the inherent problems of the sea-park industry, including the mis-treatment of sea creatures, who are often captured and bred purely for entertainment. The story focuses on one animal in particular – Tilikum, the male orca whale, who has been responsible for several deaths of SeaWorld trainers and performers.
The film gained a lot of attention and created one of the worst PR incidents SeaWorld has ever had to face.
In the past, animal entertainment was a much loved activity and hoards would gather to attend the traveling in circus in town, or flock to SeaWorld to see orcas and dolphins performing tricks. But in the past few decades, this type of entertainment has decreased as more people understand what goes on behind the scenes.
Activist groups have been protesting for years asking for legislatures to shut down SeaWorld. But it was until, in the wake of the release of Blackfish, that SeaWorld has decided to shut down its flagship orca show in its San Diego facility. The whales will now be kept in more natural enclosures for public viewing.
But many are left unsatisfied with the news. There are still two other SeaWorld facilities open in Florida and Texas. Activists also say that it is not only important to stop the shows, but also to stop the breeding program which see generations of captive animals. Many suggest that SeaWorld should fill its tanks with injured sea animals and treat the parks as an educational center, rather than purely for entertainment.
SeaWorld has already noticed a significant drop in attendance to its parks. If SeaWorld does not take measures quickly, they might be forced to by local authorities. Representative Adam Schiff announced plans to introduce legislation which will ban the capture of wild orca as well as captive breeding. Although the bill has not gained much traction this year, the proceedings have been postponed to next year, hopefully with more weight.