I'm going to come right out and say it, "I'm not as aware as I should be". I have a very difficult time understanding politics therefore I generally stay away from anything considered "political". I almost never know what's happening in the news because I don't usually watch/read it. The same goes for happenings in my church and sometimes even my family. I generally do not browse Facebook (although I post quite a bit), therefore, I'm usually the last to know...well...anything! As I said, I'm not as aware as I should be. In some ways this is not a big deal, but in others it's not a good thing.
Keep this in mind when I tell you that I had no idea who Dawn Brancheau was or anything about her story until I stumbled upon the documentary Blackfish on Netflix last Christmas.
I had no idea that there had been a SeaWorld trainer killed "in the line of duty". Furthermore, I had absolutely no clue that this was NOT the first incident of its kind. Apparently the same whale that took SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau's life had killed before MORE THAN ONCE.
After viewing Blackfish multiple times over my Christmas Holiday, I did some research of my own into the subject. Everything I found completely backs up Gabriela Cowperthwaite's version of the story. Tilikum, one of the largest Orcinus Orca currently held in captivity, has violently taken the life of three human beings.
This information begs the question, "Then why hasn't this animal been put down? If he has killed multiple people, why hasn't he been euthanized?"
The answer to this question is not a simple one. We all know that the Orcinus Orca are generally referred to as Killer Whales. However, they are not called Killer Whales because of any violent behavior they have exhibited toward humans. Rather the origin of the term Killer Whales is "Whale Killer", referring to wild Orcinus Orca who prey upon other smaller whales. Furthermore, according to David Kirby in his book, Death at SeaWorld, "...wild killer whales rarely, if ever, cause deliberate harm to humans." What I surmise from this information is this: Killer Whales don't kill humans...unless we kidnap them from their families and jail them and teach them to perform circus tricks in tanks that are too small for them.
But I'm jumping ahead of myself...
What is SeaWorld's position on this? Why do they continue to keep Tilikum around when he is obviously a threat to human life? Gabriela Cowperthwaite, with the assistance of several former SeaWorld trainers and other experts, answers this question in her documentary: SeaWorld purchased Tilikum from Sea Land of the Pacific after he had killed his first victim.
Yes, you read that right. SeaWorld bought Tilikum knowing full well that he had instigated the death of 24-year-old Keltie Lee Byrne. I'm sure you are wondering the same thing I did, "WHY?!?!"
Well, it's simple really...the answer is blindingly simplistic and is supported by information in the Blackfish film: Tilikum had the potential to be their cash cow. Not only was he gorgeous, and as I already mentioned, one of the largest Killer Whales currently in captivity, he was also a sterling performer when he chose to be. But lastly, and I believe most importantly, SeaWorld needed a male Orcinus Orca for breeding purposes.
Now, I'm going to admit that I know next to nothing about the breeding of animals. But I did wonder, however, at the wisdom of using a creature that had violently killed a human being for breeding purposes. Couldn't that violent streak be passed down to the offspring? This question is also answered in the movie Blackfish.
I could go on and on re-answering the questions that Blackfish has already taken care of, but I won't. I think I will just let this amazing, must-see documentary speak for itself. I close with this:
In the midst of the film, Blackfish shows a clip of a newscaster asking this question (and quote to best of my remembrance), "If you were kept in a bathtub for twenty-five years, don't you think you'd be a little psychotic too?" It is upon this question that I base my choice to support Blackfish and anti-captivity. I do not agree with SeaWorld's practices.
I am not being compensated for this post in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own.