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One Year After ‘Blackfish,’ SeaWorld Goes On Offensive

Evening Edition

Aired 2/3/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Director, 'Blackfish'

Deborah Giles, Marine Biogeographer, UC Davis

David Bain, Former Killer Whale Biologist with Marine World Foundation

SeaWorld is a major San Diego attraction. But one of the year's most successful documentaries has challenged how the theme park treats its animal stars, the killer whales, also known as Orcas.

The movie "Blackfish" has grossed $2 million at the box office. That's quite a feat for any documentary. It has been seen by more than 21 million TV viewers, thanks to its broadcast on CNN.

The enduring controversy about 'Blackish' has made it impossible for SeaWorld to ignore.

Recently it launched a "Truth About Blackfish" page on its website. And responded to concerns raised in the film with an open letter.

They did, however, decline our invitation to join us on Midday.

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Avatar for user 'heatherl'

heatherl | February 3, 2014 at 12:26 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

If Seaworld has nothing to hide, than why are they not responding to any requests to speak publically about their practices???? They only care about maximizing their profits. They clearly do not care for the well-being of the animals that are making their billions for them. SHAME ON SEAWORLD!

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | February 3, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

True story Heather just goes to show that some things best not done for profit.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | February 3, 2014 at 4:36 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Sea World is a terrible corporation. Profits first, animals last.

I will never go back. Ever.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 3, 2014 at 4:43 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

It's time to demand Sea World's closure.

They are nothing more than a for-profit prison work camp for sea creatures.

Anyone who visits this prison camp is responsible for animal cruelty.

I find it troubling that our own city tourism authority is spending tax-payer money promoting this prison camp nationally.

I also find it repugnant that the Sea World propagandist heard in this story outright lied about separating whale families.

The journalist has documented evidence that claves were separated from their mothers and in some case even had to be given VALIUM to help their severe distress.

Treating seam mammals in this manner is not only tolerated in our society, but this cruel "amusement park" is allowed to brand itself as some kind of happy place where animals are treated properly.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 3, 2014 at 4:55 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

The journalism in Blackfish was solid, and the Director of this film is not afraid to come out publicly and answer questions over her journalistic integrity and debate the issues with those who might oppose her.

Cowardly Sea World representatives, on the other hand, will NOT come on this or any talk shows to defend themselves because they know they are doing the indefensible: Putting MONEY above the welfare of intelligent marine animals.

Instead they choose to hide behind a wall of high priced lawyers who are there to stand up for the corporation, NOT the animals.

On top of this, they outright LIE on their website about separating whale calves from their mothers.

People must boycott Sea World. The greedy executives at this prison work camp can afford high-priced lawyers, but unfortuantely the whales being forced to live in tiny tanks and do trick at whim can't hire lawyers.

They need a voice, and they finally have one through this documentary and the people deeply disturbed by it, of which I am one.

The very thought of the Sea World Prison Work Camp makes me sick.

Shame, Shame on Sea World and all their filthy, ignorant propagandists.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 3, 2014 at 7:40 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Having reviewed BLACKFISH back in the summer, I was surprised to see that Beth did not do a follow-up article on the Jan 15 news story.

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Avatar for user 'SeaWorldExposed'

SeaWorldExposed | February 4, 2014 at 1:18 p.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Get the TRUTH at

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Avatar for user 'Kat1'

Kat1 | February 5, 2014 at 12:53 a.m. ― 3 years, 1 month ago

Let's be honest, Sea World can't build a compelling case against this documentary so they have to rely on their vast fortune and on the willful ignorance of customers (new as well as patrons). Their stance is one of aggression, which stems from fear and arrogance. Fear, because they know the documentary is factual, otherwise they would have filed a lawsuit by now, and arrogance because they seem convinced that their money and reputation from before can insulate them from the backlash this doc has created. Gabriella has been a class act throughout this entire ordeal, and I have a great deal of respect for her and the work that she has done. Bravo to everyone who participated in making 'Blackfish' the outstanding film that it is, you have many supporters.

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