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What Role Did ‘Blackfish’ Play In SeaWorld’s Decision To Stop Breeding Orcas?

Tillikum, the killer whale at the center of the documentary

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Above: Tillikum, the killer whale at the center of the documentary "Blackfish," is seen in this undated photo.

The Role of 'Blackfish' In SeaWorld’s Decision To Stop Breeding Orcas


Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director, 'Blackfish'


When SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby announced last week that SeaWorld was ending its orca breeding program, he said it was due to an “evolving understanding of one of the world’s largest marine mammals.”

But animal activists say the shift was partly due to the documentary "Blackfish."

After the 2013 release of the movie, which was picked up by CNN films and has reportedly been viewed by more than 60 million people, SeaWorld saw revenues and park attendance take a hit.

“I think [the film] galvanized people into seeing something that they hadn't seen before,” Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director and producer of "Blackfish," told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday.

Cowperthwaite credited the trainers and decades of research and animal activism that enabled her to make the “Blackfish.” And she said that even though conversations need to keep pushing the issue, SeaWorld’s decision was a giant step.

“For a multibillion-dollar industry to say it’s going to be ending how it practices its industry is seminal,” Cowperthwaite said.


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