I’ll start by saying that I went to SeaWorld, Florida, many years ago, and that I loved it.
I was a dinky 8 year old wearing a Mickey Mouse hat and holding an orca plushie as, with my Dad, my brother, I watched Shamu leap and twirl for the crowds. I thought it was incredible that someone had trained these huge creatures to behave like happy puppies doing tricks.
Of course, age and experience soon dulls memories like this as you read more and more about the suffering and cruelty that these animals go through.
It’s no secret that places like SeaWorld have come under increasing pressure from animal rights groups regarding the animals in their care, even before Blackfish was released.
As far back as the 1980s, stories have surfaced about animals, in particular orcas, that have behaved aggressively and violently, sometimes leading to serious injury and even death, in both animals and humans.
And that is the focus of Blackfish. Following one particular orca – Tilikum – the documentary interviews previous trainers, marine experts and witnesses to form a timeline of incidents relating to this large and impressive animal.
The sad truth is, Tilikum has been linked to the deaths of three people during his time in captivity, and, somewhat more shockingly, after the first incidient he was still exposed to regular human contact.
I found the documentary itself very subdued and not the sensationalist fare that critics have touted it as.
Because it is made up primarily of footage and interviews, it was really hard to see how they could have influenced the tone of the film. There was no interviewer leading the questions or provoking responses; it was simply people who were there giving their opinions.
It can be a hard film to watch in places but I would definitely recommend it. The plight of these amazing animals can’t be ignored any longer.