Friday, September 27, 2013


Even though this blog is about big cats I feel the movie Blackfish should share in the spotlight. Blackfish is all about Tilikum a 12,000 pound whale who lives at SeaWorld. From 1988 to 2009 their were over 100 reports of incidents with whales and trainers. This is Tilikum's story in 1983 the only way to get Orca whales in to captivity was capturing them from the wild and Tilikum was no exception. Orca Whales live in pods, pods include a whale's family similar to a lion pride. Tilikum was just a baby when he was separated from his pod and moved to a marine park called Sealand of the Pacific. He was placed with two other female orcas, they didn't get along to well. Sealand of the Pacific was very cruel and used food deprivation to train their animals, not giving the orcas food for days unless they did the commands asked during a show. Trainers were worried the orcas might chew their way threw the nets or activist might cut the nets, the nets were the only thing separating the whales from the Pacific ocean. So stop this from happening they put the whales in to extremely small metal pens they were 28 feet in diameter keeping in mind Tilikum is about 22 feet long. This made the whales stressed and they took it out on one another. In 1991 Tilikum was doing a normal performance, a trainer slipped in the tank no one is clear about what happened but the trainer was killed by the whales and Tilikum was directly involved with the death he's even believed to have killed the trainer.
Tilikum was moved in 1992 to SeaWorld Orlando Florida, SeaWorld used positive reinforcement to train their whales. Even though SeaWorld had bigger enclosures it can never match the wild and is hundreds of miles less than his native habitat. The whales at SeaWorld did not like Tilikum often teasing and injuring him, in the wild Tilikum could get away from the other whales but in captivity he was trapped never getting a break from them. Tilikum was an excellent performer and not to mention the biggest whale in captivity. SeaWorld didn't properly inform the trainers about Tilikum's history they said he wasn't directly involved in the death of a trainer at Sealand of the Pacific. Tilikum was involved in many attacks with his trainers but so were the other whales so it wasn't a big surprise even though some of them were near deaths of trainers. In 1999 Tilikum had killed another person, this person had snuck in after hours, he was found the next morning dead on top of Tilikum. Tilikum was still allowed to swim with trainers and participate during the shows.
He attacked many trainers since them but his last attack was on February 24th, 2010 when he killed Dawn Brancheau, during a Dine with Shamu Show. After this Tilikum was seperated from the other whales put in a small enclosure and only allowed to perform one stunt at the shows. This was his third death because of this death a policy was made that banned trainers from entering the water with the whales. SeaWorld says that Tilikum mistook her ponytail as a toy thinking he was playing with a toy not a person. But her injuries say other wise it is more likely that she was dragged in by her arm, and all trainers had their hair in ponytails so it is unlikely he randomly became interested in a ponytail when he was so used to seeing them.
Tilikum has 21 offspring only 11 are still alive. The movie also talks about how the mothers are separated from their calfs and if SeaWorld really supported natural family bonds why do they separate the calfs. They show how stressed they are when they are separated at one point they had to call in a marine biologist because one of the orca mothers had made noises never heard before while her calf was being separated from her, turns out they were distress calls made to be heard miles away to keep in touch with her calf which was being driven away. The movie talks about how they have to throw nets between them because the baby won't leave its moms side. And how the baby and mom are in distress sometimes it takes weeks until they start to calm down. Now Tilikum spends his life pacing his enclosure, bored.
Is this how SeaWorld should treat their animals? Keeping them in small enclosures just for our pleasure? When it is so obvious they are stressed and bored? They belong in the wild where they can roam free having miles of space doing what whales naturally do. Is riding on the back of a whale natural for the whale or is just entertainment for us? I love SeaWorld I always have but this movie has opened my eyes to the truth I would love to go back to SeaWorld but I would only feel comfortable doing this if they got rid of the whales, placing them in to sanctuaries, and rehabilitating the babies back to the wild. Blackfish the movie has done a great job in giving the whales some justice and I feel bad for Tilikum there is so much more to his story than meets the eye. This is just my opinion based on the Blackfish the movie for more info go to


  1. OMG! I would read the rest but I just needed to post a comment! This immature behavior is nonstop! How could these selfish people not feed these black and white beauties unless they do tricks?! They should not even do tricks! At least the orca was moved to SeaWorld. I have been many times, and the animals are healthy and happy. Great job! Keep teaching people about these wonderful animals!

  2. Read the rest of your blog. I did not know SeaWorld is so cruel! It is like a circus-, and circuses well- are not so good. ( When I went to one, the clowns were not even funny.) I have always loved SeaWorld, but you Maddy, you have opened the window and showed me SeaWorld in a way I have never seen it in before. Better tell my mom to cancel our SeaWorld trip. Great job!