In July, a new documentary,?Blackfish,?will be released. This documentary examines the treatment of killer whales in captivity, and its focus is Tilikum, an animal who has killed three humans, including one of his trainers at SeaWorld, Dawn Branchaeu, in 2010. Tilikum was captured off of the coast in Iceland in 1983 and is still a very popular attraction at SeaWorld performing regularly in front of large crowds.
The film is examines deep concerns and doubts about keeping wild animals in captivity.?”There are probably no words to assuage this damning indictment of the theme park’s role in the death of a whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, nor to convince anyone of the humaneness of keeping wild?animals?in captivity for human entertainment,” wrote film critic Carrie Seidman in Florida’s?Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Justin Chang, a reviewer for the film industry bible,?Variety?magazine, called the film a “compelling psychological profile” of Tilikum. “The impression the film leaves is of a deep-pocketed institution that, for all its claims of humane and professional treatment, tolerates practices that are fundamentally at odds with the animals’ well-being and refuses to accept any portion of responsibility,” Chang wrote.
I have read the above reviews and comments about the movie. And, last week, I watched an ABC News segment about Tilikum. He lives in a 20’x30′ training pool. Born to freely swim the waters of our earth, this pool has been his prison since 1983. His immense body and soul do not fit into a 20’x30′ bathtub. I wonder how he has actually lived with his undeniably broken heart and imprisoned spirit for two decades in such a tiny space.
The name Tilikum means “friend” in the Native American Chinook language. In order to keep a friend one must give respect to that friend, understand the needs and essence of that friend. Tilikum has not been treated as a friend.
In 2012, SeaWord earned 1.4 billion dollars from 24 million visitors at their 11 different theme parks.