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The Issue of Animal Captivity in The Blackfish Documentary

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Animal domestication began in the ancient times. Human beings are seen to have domesticated animals like cats for companionship in ancient Egypt and livestock for agricultural purposes. This was the earliest form of animal captivity. Over the years, the form of animal has undergone drastic changes. At the moment the form of animal captivity that has grown emerged is for entertainment purposes. We go to the zoo to see the endangered animal species, we plan trips to SeaWorld to Shamu circus-style orca whale show, swimming with the dolphins is way up their in our lists of to-dos. All this activity has one main thing in common; keeping animals of the wild in captivity.

Many people are of the opinion that animals, are just mindless creature with no fully developed brain like that of man. Therefore, they are there for food and other type of service for the benefit of man. While others totally disagree with this line of thought. They believe that animals have emotions and can feel pain and pleasure all in the same measure. Animal are believed to have rights, within the animal rights, they are to live freely within there natural habitat without human interference. When we interfere with wild animals when they are in their natural habitat, for any other reason and not in self-defense or for survival, then that is animal cruelty.

Since the capture of Tilikum in the Blackfish in the year 1983, he has caused three death. Tilikum was captured in Iceland, considering all the time he has been kept in captivity it is only logical that he developed aggressive behavior more than he would have been if he was free in the wild. Wild animals are meant to live freely and therefore, they will never be happy in captivity. This was the same case with Tilikum, he felt trapped, and the close proximity with the other whales made it worse since he was constantly harassed. This caused him to grow aggressive tendencies leading to the death of the three trainers. The documentary doesn’t in totality say that this is what caused the aggressive behavior of the killer whale, although it is in documentation that the bull orcas have never killed human beings when they are out in the wild.

SeaWorld believes that the orcas in captivity tend to live longer than those in the wild. This is because they can be attended to when they fall sick and not susceptible to other predators. However, this documentary tends to think otherwise, they believe that orcas in the wild have a way longer life span compared to orcas in captivity.

The company; SeaWorld, refused to be part of the documentary, this would only mean that the film would not paint SeaWorld in the best of light. This therefore makes it difficult to verify the authenticity of all the information documented in blackfish documentary. The statement made to CNN by the company, was that the film was misleading, inaccurate and is just exploiting the public on the tragedy. The company believes that it helps in rehabilitating wild animals and conservation. They are of the opinion that providing care for the sick or injured wild animals increases their chances of living, since they are treated by the best veterinarians an opportunity that is not there in the wild. Technically, there opinion here is valid, but the question on how the animals got to the state of being sick and how many of those problems they are experiencing arise due to being placed in captivity in the first place is not answered.

After the release of this film, people had different opinion, but there was more damage done than good. Many of the animal rights activists came out boldly in support of the blackfish film, calling onto the people to boycott all of SeaWorld projects. Many of the celebrity singers and band members who were scheduled to perform in a SeaWorld event called the show off in light of the documentary. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the people were in total agreement with the film, it could just be that they don’t want to lose their fan base by performing in an event that is sponsored by SeaWorld when they are still involved such a controversy. No matter these people’s decisions, it still remains a fact that the film stirred up a deep-rooted conversation in regards to amusement park entertainment and SeaWorld being the center of it all has been hurt by these claims in one way or another now and in the future.

A former SeaWorld employee John Hargrove, professional orca trainer, writes a book telling the world about his experience. He narrates the story on how Tilikum attacked her trainer. The details he gives out is quite graphic and the SeaWorld company denies it. In his book “Beneath the surface” Hargrove, slams SeaWorld and says they don’t show any compassion to the orcas. They are cruel for keeping the animals in captivity inbreeding them. This brings about whales that are totally different from the ones in the wild, and even if they were to decide to return the orcas back in the wild, they will not survive. At the moment, John is an advocate against SeaWorld and he says the company won’t stop him.

In every story there are two sides, and of course the truth lies in between the two sides. In the film the blackfish, it raises issues that cause so much controversy. It is common knowledge that documentaries tend to be persuasive in nature, this knowledge doesn’t mean the information is inaccurate. However, precaution should be taken not to take this as the gospel truth, individuals should continue investigating and not make assumptions because this is the true way to understand the issue at hand, find the truth and come up with resolutions. Of course, there are the people who will now avoid SeaWorld in light of the documentary, others who will go seek out more information, and then those who wont even care at all if the orcas are happy and content being held captive as long as they are getting the entertainment they are paying for.


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The Issue Of Animal Captivity In The Blackfish Documentary. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from
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The Issue Of Animal Captivity In The Blackfish Documentary. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2022].
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