CNN happened to be showing "Blackfish" about killer whales. Since I have expressed certain opinions about the whole premise without having seen it, I decided to watch.
First and foremost: These are KILLER whales. Like any wild animal, these whales have instincts and attributes that will never be fully tamed.
According to NatGeo, roughly 75 human deaths occur (have occurred?) as a result of various captive animals. Note: No timeframe is given by NatGeo, so we have no idea if this is per year, per day, per week, per decade...
My father-in-law raises cows. Every now and then he pulls the calves away from the cows in order to take them to market. The cows bellow and hollar. Blackfish manipulates the viewer by trying to say that the noises being made by the whales are grief, etc. While I don't disagree, the fact is that other animals do the same thing. Killer whales are no different than any other animal in that regard. Much like in a courtroom where certain parties try to play on our emotions, I see that storyline as no different: the makers of the film are simply trying to play on the emotions of people watching. Sorry, show me the facts and keep your emotions to yourselves.
Having said that, there are certainly some facts to be considered. Tilikum attacked and killed at least one trainer and seemed to "want" to attack another. There is some information that seems to be contradictory (how long they live, for example).
In another few clips, we learn of various attacks. One man managed to narrowly escape after a whale grabbed his foot and dragged him to the bottom, lifted him up, swapped feet and repeated the process. How the trainer managed to remain calm through the ordeal is incredible.
As I type this, we are about halfway through the program. My thoughts are:
- These are KILLER whales. They are wild animals that we've put into captivity. They are dangerous. If we believe anything else, we are only fooling ourselves.
- We need bigger tanks and better parameters for keeping whales.
- Not all creatures behave the same. There should be provisions for removing animals exhibiting aggressive behavior, but always remembering that the animals could attack at any moment.
- The programs need to be reworked to help limit the possibility of trainer accidents and deaths.
- All wild animal parks need to be more open, honest, and forthcoming about the accidents that happen within their walls.
My heart goes out to the families of those who have been killed by whales. Though I fully believe this "documentary" was created to send out a message of shock and awe, it only shows the tragic side of what parks like Sea World provide. The same would be true if a "documentary" were to be made showing only the tragedies suffered by roller coaster riders. Looking at anything from only one side is manipulative, plain and simple.