October 28th, 2013
12:24 PM ET

'Blackfish' Sparks Debate Over Taking Kids To Animal Parks

The family trip to San Diego that we've been discussing, in part to visit SeaWorld with the kids, might be off - indefinitely. I relayed that news to my husband (he wasn't pleased) after watching the stirring documentary "Blackfish."

The film tells the story of the killing in 2010 of experienced SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by a 12,000-pound orca, CNN's Martin Savidge reports.

You might be surprised to find out that the director of "Blackfish," Gabriela Cowperthwaite, once would routinely take her kids to shows at SeaWorld in San Diego. That was the case until that day nearly four years ago when the whale Brancheau trained and performed with in Orlando pulled her underwater.

The death led Cowperthwaite to make a documentary, raising questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity over the past 39 years.

The film includes interviews with a number of former SeaWorld trainers, including one who said he would never take his child to SeaWorld.

"I am not at all interested in having my daughter who is 3-and-a-half grow up thinking that it's normalized to have these intelligent, highly evolved animals in concrete pools," said John Jett, a former SeaWorld trainer, who said he grew increasingly concerned about the stressful conditions the animals were living under at SeaWorld."I don't want her to think that's how we treat the kin that we find ourselves around on this planet. I think it's atrocious.

On Facebook and Twitter,  thousands debate the ethics of keeping killer whales in captivity at aquariums and marine parks.

Many say they were stunned by the movie's allegation that mistreatment of some killer whales also known as orcas may have led to deadly consequences for trainers.

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