About two weeks ago Melissa and I watch the documentary “Blackfish” off of Netflix. It was 83 minutes of a very upsetting and depressing reality that is the treatment of animals at Sea World, namely of the killer whale Tilikum.
The documentary follows Tilkum’s life from when he was young, captured in 1983 and how he was mistreated at a small Canadian by not only the trainers but the fellow whales as well. He is then moved to Sea World where the main part of the documentary takes place. Tilikum is found to have killed at least three people while at Sea World and at the former location and it is no doubt that it is because of the lifelong mistreatment he has endured.
One of the most disappointing realizations to come out of this documentary is how the animals are treated at Sea World. I have some fond memories of Sea World from when I was there back in the late 80’s, when my parents took me to Orlando for a Disney World/EPCOT/Disney’s MGM Studios (which had just opened and is now simply called Disney’s Studios) and one of those days we went to Sea World. I remember drawing Shamu and pictures of the killer whales after the trip. Nothing can harm those great memories that were created all those years ago, but I’ll definitely reconsider taking my children there, honestly in opposition of the treatment of the animals.
A lot of people don’t realize how much emotion animals have. I have two Golden Retrievers and a rabbit and I can tell you that they all have feelings and emotions. And I’ll be the first to fight anyone on people simply thinking that I am personifying these animals. I’ve seen these dogs upset and happy, even Peanut (our rabbit) has a wide range of emotions. You might not actually be able to see them, but there are scientific studies on how much rabbits understand and know. They aren’t just little furry animals.
We’ve all seen the little birds chasing the big birds away from their nest, or mother cats saving their kittens from harm. It is documented the grief of an elephant when their lifelong friend (another elephant) passed away.Wolves howl not to strike fear in those around them but mostly to find those close members of their pack that are missing (and usually howl together when they find each other). That’s just a short list of things off the top of my head, if you want to read more see a list of 10 Heartbreaking Mourning Animal Rituals go to Pawnation.
In “Blackfish” we see a mother killer whale screaming when the trainers take her baby away, to be sent to another park. Animals are beings on this planet and they may run mostly on the instinct but they also have emotions, such as love, fear, joy among a slew of other ones as well.
Tilikum, who was taken away from his pod of Killer Whales at a young age and forced into a life of (essentially) slavery; it is no wonder that he has been a very difficult animal in captivity. Did you know that not only are Killer Whales extremely intelligent but that they have numerous members in their pods (what a group of Killer Whales are called) and that they have very different dialects that they communicate with each other within their own pods. Meaning they have a different language between each pod. And when companies like Sea World put these animals together from different pods, assuming that they are the same animal thus they should be able to reintegrate with one another and develop a pod of their own, they don’t realize that all of these animals do not speak the same language which makes integration even more difficult.
A lot of this reminds me of the old carny mentality around circus animals as well as how exotic animals were treated in zoos. We are keeping these animals contained, this isn’t how they were meant to live. Regardless of whether they were born in captivity or not they were not meant to be placed in their cages. Simply put they are like humans, some accept where they are and what they have to do, some get depressed and some get angry and lash out.
BuzzFeed had a article about how the documentary “Blackfish” is impacting those who are watching it. I recommend reading it. It shows the length to which Sea World is willing to go to make sure this public relations nightmare goes away.
I also think it would be good for you to watch the documentary, it is prominently showcased on Netflix, but I’m sure you can find it in a number of other places as well.
I’m not going to continue on with my thoughts on this issue, I really hope by what you read here and hopefully elsewhere online and also by watching the documentary that you have your own opinion on the matter. Please leave comments below and let me know how you feel about this controversial issue.