We recently sat down with former SeaWorld Trainer Bridgette M. Pirtle to talk about her involvement with the production of the film BlackFish. We were amazed by what we learned, and we think you will be too.

Bridgette Pirtle first visited SeaWorld when she was 3 years old, and immediately became obsessed with whales.  In 2000, Bridgette was accepted into the killer whale apprentice program at SeaWorld San Antonio and began working with sea lions, otters and bottlenose dolphins, which lead to 10 years of experience with killer whales and eventually becoming a Sr. Trainer.

Bridget performing at SeaWorld San Antonio

On February 24, 2010, Bridgette and the other trainers were all called in by management and informed that there had been an incident in Orlando, and that it had resulted in the death of Sr. Trainer Dawn Brancheau.  Bridgette was devastated by this news. Dawn was her hero, a person whom she looked up to.   In the days and weeks after this incident, Bridgette’s parents and grandparents would tearfully plead with her to stop working with whales out of fear that what happened to Dawn could happen to her.  In the end, Bridgette decided to leave SeaWorld in March 2011.


In September 2012, Bridgette began to look for ways that she could share her love for the animals that she worked with at SeaWorld, and this is when she discovered “Voices of the Orcas,” which is run by four ex-SeaWorld Trainers, Samantha Berg, Carol Ray, Jeffery Ventre and John Jett.  When Bridgette initially spoke to the trainers, they told her that there was a movie in production about Dawn and Tilikum and that they were going to tell the truth.

When I asked Bridgette what that “truth” was, she explained:

“The truth is that it wasn’t Dawn’s fault.  And that was the most important thing to me.”

It was after this call that Bridgette was introduced to Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish. Here’s Bridgett’s account of what Gabriela told her the film would be about:

“I thought she was making a movie that was going to be more respectable to the memory of Dawn, more understanding of the unique lives of killer whale trainers, the unique circumstances under which killer whale training is conducted now, and the loss that the current trainers felt and currently feel.  I thought it would give some sort of closure; that it would give some sort of answer, create harmony, and it didn’t.”

Credits for the movie BlackFish with Bridget Pirtle

We then asked Bridgette what her contributions to the film were. She responded:

“I contributed footage and insight into the recent context of killer whale training at SeaWorld. I was invited by the executive producer, Tim Zimmerman, to attend the film’s premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Although I was asked by the director if I could provide an interview for the film, I declined due to time constraints and an uncertainty about the path I was going to tread in this unknown and foreign territory. I did take part in a few ‘Q&As’ and agreed to hold off on sharing my own story and experiences until later, once a distributor had been obtained.”

Bridget with the trainers featured in BlackFish in front of a theater in Park City, Utah  for the Sundance Film Festival

In January 2013, Bridgette traveled to Park City, Utah, where she would meet with the others involved in the film – John Jett, Jeffery Ventre, Carol Ray, John Hargrove and Samantha Berg.  While they were getting ready for a question and answer session, Samantha Berg said to Bridgette, “They are going to choose you to be our spokesperson, because you are pretty and you look like Dawn.”  This immediately did not set well with Bridgette, who still mourns the loss of her hero, Dawn Brancheau.

Bridget Pirtle at a Q&A with the BlackFish Crew
Left to Right: Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Bridget Pirtle, John Hargrove, Samantha Berg

According to Bridgette, before the first screening of the film, Dawn’s family requested that they be allowed to view the movie in the privacy of their own home. When Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite refused their request, Dawn’s family then asked if they were going to like the movie, to which her response was, “No.”

Bridgette still had high hopes for the film before her first screening. She shared:

It seemed to me, with the information that was given at the time, that maybe there was someone capable of telling Dawn’s story and defending her in a compassionate and respectful manner.”

The BlackFish Crew after a screening

However, after her first screening of the film at Sundance, Bridgette had a different reaction:

Blackfish was a complete ‘180’ from what was originally presented to me.  Now, it’s almost like my worst fears are unfolding in front of me. When I first spoke with Tim and Gabriela, I truly felt like they were as passionate about the animals’ welfare as I was. I felt they believed in the relationships and respected my experiences and insight.

I’d love to be able to shed a bit if light on the dark side of the exploitation and fallacies behind the film Blackfish and its ‘faces.’ My intentions are simply to speak honestly and promote a responsible way to care for these animals.

Samantha likes to mention SeaWorld’s desire to conceal and hide the truth in regards to aggression videos. Honestly, she didn’t see the videos because she wasn’t experienced enough. In Texas, our management team felt it was important that all of our trainers at Shamu be aware of what the animals were capable of.

It also has always bothered me that in the beginning of the movie, Gabriela included the audio interview with the EMT that mentioned that Tilly ‘swallowed it.’ This is an immediate example of how something was included to sensationalize and exploit what happened when we knew for a fact this was not true.

One of the most disappointing things included in the film was Jeff and Sam’s critiquing of Dawn’s last session. There are quite a few double standards that are entwined within and around the film that became apparent to me as I began to ask the right questions and ultimately trust in my own beliefs and my own experiences. This one sat wrong with me from the first viewing. Seeing a veteran of 16 years be criticized by individuals unaware of Tilikum’s history, people unaware of Dawn’s relationship with Tilikum, and people who hadn’t a clue of the context of the current state of killer whale training – much less the context of that session – was disgusting and disrespectful.

Jeff Ventre was fired for multiple safety violations in the water with killer whales. Sam wasn’t given the opportunity to gain enough experience to begin to critique Dawn’s actions. John Jett felt Tilly was ‘frustrated’ based on poor observations from a poor behaviorist. These trainers were poor with their relationships – if they believed in them at all – and they were poor behaviorally.

Dawn would not have made the decision to continue on with a session if Tilly was behaviorally poor, as these three imply. In the words of Jeff, it is in my ‘humble opinion’ that their disrespectful insight is from inexperienced trainers suffering from ‘trainer-itis’ who did not have the privilege or opportunity to make a connection with the animals they briefly worked with long ago.”

Bridget Pirtle, John Hargrove and Gabriela Cowperthwaite

It was in the aftermath of the movie’s release, and going mainstream, that Bridgette pieced together a radical agenda behind Blackfish, and of the four trainers at “Voices of the Orcas”:

“Samantha says that breeding Tilikum is comparable to breeding pit bulls. According to her, SeaWorld shouldn’t use Tilly’s genes because of his history of aggression. But they like to say that Tilly’s ‘psychosis’ is a result of his captive environment. Is it nature or is it nurture? With the activists it seems to be whichever is most convenient to serving their purpose. Tilikum is a result of his environment in order to end captivity, and then he is a poor source of genes to end breeding.

The majority of the most current and most experienced insight was neglected from the film. With the exception of John Hargrove, there was a noticeable absence of relevant and credible killer whale experience from an individual who was aware of the situation before, during and after the incidents at Loro Parque and SeaWorld.”

We asked Bridgette, “What do you think Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s goal was with this film?”  

“To win the Academy Award®. Once it was apparent that there was no real interest in revealing the whole truth, I knew it was another person’s attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the story of Dawn and Alexis.

I know firsthand that any attempt of an experienced trainer looking to speak on behalf of the animals was quickly dismissed. Attempts to publish articles that presented a more fair, honest and unbiased perspective were eventually nixed at the very last minute. It was naive of me to seek to expose the truth that contradicted many of those within the film via CNN, the company which had a vested interest in the success of the film.”


When asked what she thought SeaWorld could do about the criticisms which were brought up in the film, Bridgette answered:

“In the eyes of the film, there is only one acceptable response: Free them all. This is illogical and irresponsible, and any experienced trainer will agree. Even history tells us that reintroduction has not proven successful in the past. SeaWorld looked into improving the facility with a whale ‘treadmill.’ Seeing the company invest in the animals was something I applauded immediately. This was enrichment. This was exciting and encouraging. And my accolades were heavily criticized by activists who wanted only to mock the action. It’s unfair.”


Of course, I wanted to know if after all of Bridgette’s experience she would recommend anyone see Blackfish. Her response:

“No, not unless they have someone like me to explain what is missing.”

What would Bridgette do if she was in charge of SeaWorld?  

“I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.”

And finally we asked, would you take your children to SeaWorld?

“Whales were such a large part of my life, and these relationships were so important to me, that I cannot imagine not giving that to my children. So, yes, I would take them to SeaWorld.”


When Gabriela Cowperthwaite found out that Bridgette would be speaking out about the film, Gabriela called Bridgette and reportedly told her to, “Please wait until after award season to criticize Blackfish.”

Since we spoke with Bridgette, we’ve also heard from other trainers, including Mark Simmons, who feels that Gabriele also deceived him. We hope to bring you more stories from the folks who work at SeaWorld, past and present, whether they worked on Blackfish or not. There’s no way for us to know everything that is absolutely right or wrong with the film Blackfish, but the more folks we hear from the more clear the picture will be. Blackfish may be getting a lot of media attention, but there is clearly some troubled water swirling around the film, as evidenced by the comments of people who worked on Blackfish and who now feel they have been betrayed by their Director.

Video of Bridgette performing with SeaWorld San Antonio’s Orcas:

Bridgette is now trying to distance herself from Blackfish and “Voices of the Orcas” as she begins to explore ways for her to help improve animal care which is free from a radical agenda.  You can follow Bridgette on Twitter at @BridgettePirtle

  • SparkChaser

    ‘After award season’? I wonder if a film like this would even be remotely considered by ANY academy. Families watch this and they know it’ll get plenty of criticism, would an independent film get chosen in the first place?

    • sonnyz

      It could be nominated for best documentary.

    • ericmryan

      The film is one of the 10 remaining films eligible for this year Documentary Feature Oscar. 5 of those 10 will be announced as nominees next Thursday morning. BLACKFISH is expected to be one of the 5.

      • Sifferz

        Indeed it is. I desperately hope it doesn’t win, especially when more important movies like Invisible War are here to contend with one-sided trash like this. Much like Super Size Me, this feature infuriates me because so many people blindly buy into it because it is a “documentary”, which obviously means you can believe everything it says, right ?

  • Jeff Kober

    Blackfish depicts a view of a greedy Sea World that hides the truth and wants you to “ignore the man behind the curtain.” In truth, Sea World is composed of hundreds if not thousands of trained professionals who for dozens and dozens of years have provided exemplary animal and marine care in an accredited zoological institution. The people of Sea World are not perfect, but they have worked hard for the benefit of those who care about these incredible creatures. Meanwhile, Blackfish is not a documentary, it’s a propaganda film with an agenda. And now with one of only a small handful of trainers interviewed coming forward and saying that this film is misleading, I wander who is really “behind the curtain.”

    Thanks for providing this interview. And thanks to Sea World, who has give millions of people a better understanding of the oceans around us.

  • StevenW

    While Bridgette criticizes the movie for leaving out facts, she is just as much the radical. Why would she say “I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.” if she didn’t think there is something wrong with SeaWorld.

    The training could be improved for the safety of the trainers and care of the animals, but nothing is perfect and SeaWorld should continue to offer what it does best. The theme park pays the bills. The shows are just as much education as it is entertainment.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I don’t know. I don’t think the shows are very educational. They’re all pretty much the same show they have been doing since the 70s. The whales swim around, splash people, jump in the air. That’s not very educational.

      I think it’s great to be able to see these animals in tanks…they are very impressive. To me they are so big it’s almost like seeing dinosaurs or something. But, the shows to me are kind of lame. And there are plenty of videos on YouTube to watch. No need to keep doing this every day in real life. Just have SeaWorld make a really good film of the splashing and jumping and we can watch it over and over again forever. Let the animals they have now continue to live in tanks at SeaWorld but don’t get any new animals, and when the current ones die do not replace them.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Eric!

    I still want orcas out of American parks. This article uses the word “trainer” as if being an animal trainer at a theme park is as prestigious and scientific as being an actual marine biologist.

    Ironically, Sea World deserves credit for helping to make the public concerned about orcas, and many people now want them to have even better lives. Keeping these giant, migrating animals in tanks that are too small for them and splitting up their families as if they were happy puppies will hopefully stop–just as small, iron barred concrete cages have mostly disappeared at older American zoos.

    Sea World already has “Pets Rule” with dogs and cats. They should become “Animal World” to increase their opportunities. Along with Busch Gardens Tampa and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Animal World parks could still be fun and continue to increase visitors love for animals.

    • evergreen

      “This article uses the word “trainer” as if being an animal trainer at a theme park is as prestigious and scientific as being an actual marine biologist.”

      Exactly. Amount of education it takes to be a trainer: Zero.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    OK, here’s my issue with Ms. Pirtle and her “coming out against Blackfish” moment: she (unlike many other animal trainers out there) HAD a moment to tell her truth, on camera. Mr. Simmons, if I recall the film correctly, does just that, and presents an opinion for a changed, safer captive orca marine park industry. For whatever reason, she chose NOT to engage in her story on camera for the director. Now, that’s her choice, but if she wanted ‘Blackfish’ to have more variety of perspective, she should have appeared on-camera. Mr. Simmons did, as did the other trainers interviewed for the film.

    The same thing is true for SeaWorld, itself, actually. If the goal was balance (or at least the attempt to create a variety of voices to mitigate against bias,) and clarity, and fair discourse, don’t repeatedly decline interviews for the film.

    I’m not getting into what is true or false or otherwise about Blackfish, but if Ms. Pirtle finds more false than true, it’s her own damned fault, honestly, for not going on camera and presenting her perspective on the reality of SeaWorld and marine mammal training. I mean, that was a prime opportunity; she had a Golden Ticket and chose not to go to the Wonka Factory.

    Again…I’m certainly open to multiple perspectives regarding orca captivity (I think the proper reaction to ‘Blackfish’ is research and “what now,” not “free all whales,”) and I’d have loved Ms. Pirtle’s testimony to have been peppered into ‘Blackfish.’ I found all of the trainers to have really different personalities and “takes” on life at SeaWorld (Pirtle discredits her, but I loved Samantha and I’m totally with her. I don’t care if I’m the first newbie on the job or the oldest orca trainer left: if a trainer gets crushed by a rogue orca I think I should know about it if I’m going to get anywhere near the orcas. Or if the giant new male breeding whale just killed someone in Canada? Yeah, that might be a memo to…at least…the animal trainers. I’m pretty sure the janitor on the Manhattan Project was told by Oppenheimer not to get too close to the uranium, for Chrissake.) I thought the trainers all brought a series of strands, of voices to tell the story. The sad thing, for Ms. Pirtle, is that she had the opportunity to be one of those voices, to attempt to set the record straight, or at least convey her own, expert take on what was going on. She didn’t, and thus, she’s going to have to live with that, and the grain of salt her late-blooming vocalization will inspire.

    • Eric Davis

      Mr. Mark Simmons gave 3 hours of counter points, has over 20 years experience with Orcas, was the trainer who brought Tilikum from Canada to the US. And he was only used for about one minute of the film. So it didn’t matter who got interviewed, it was getting cut out if ti didn’t fit the narrative.

      • shoewee

        I’m with Eric, AaroniusPolonius, its all about what the Director’s world view is. All they want is for the trainers to say words that they can cut and use as a mouthpiece for their world view. I work in a field that hates dealing with the presses because we worry that they are going to take what we say out of context and twist our words. I’m sure that’s what the Director of Blackfish did with some of these trainers.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Mark Simmons is in every interview packet throughout the entire film. He pops up EVERY TIME. And what’s more, he consistently contrasts the narrative. He, in effect, makes it interesting.

        Also, why are the trainers coming here, to MiceChat? If she and others are concerned that Blackfish is exploitative, and that it doesn’t give a fair voice, why not go to a major media outlet? This is now daily news across the mainstream media in one form or another.

        Moreso, if she’s really concerned that the primary reason for “Blackfish” is to win the director an Oscar (which sounds pretty horrid, considering the living creatures and dying trainers that are getting her that award,) than call up a major news outlet. CNN will GLADLY take the publicity, good or bad, as they’ll make bank either way. But this is a theme park geek site! If she wants some level of credibility and impact, go to NBC, ABC, CNN, CBS. Even Fox.

        However, if she wants to bitch with the rest of us about MyMagic+, welcome.

    • CreepyMonkey

      AaroniusPolonius frankly, you are commenting from a position of relative ignorance. As someone who has heard the entire interview I can tell you first hand that Bridgette had the best of intention about her participation in the film and if you read the article she was deceived by Gabriela Cowperthwaite as to the purpose and focus of the film. How could she have “told her story” in the film when she believed she was WAS telling her story and helping the animals she loves so much.

      I respect and admire Bridgette very much coming out now and speaking out about the film. She’s been looking for a way to get the truth out there and now she finally has.

      If you haven’t realized yet, nothing that doesn’t fit the agenda of the film makers made it into the film. Blackfish is a propaganda piece that has a dark agenda that does nothing to better whales or animals in general.

      • CreepyMonkey

        AaroniusPolonius says, “than call up a major news outlet. CNN will GLADLY take the publicity, good or bad, as they’ll make bank either way.”

        Did you not read the article? She has tried to take her story to CNN and they “nixed” the articles because they have a vested interest in the film succeeding. The reason she is coming out to the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast is because we are a voice that listened to her story and are willing to help her get her message out there.

        Frankly, I’m beginning to find your objections puzzling at best.

    • Skylala

      ” but I loved Samantha and I’m totally with her. I don’t care if I’m the first newbie on the job or the oldest orca trainer left: if a trainer gets crushed by a rogue orca I think I should know about it if I’m going to get anywhere near the orcas. Or if the giant new male breeding whale just killed someone in Canada? Yeah, that might be a memo to…at least…the animal trainers.”

      You do know that when the incident of the trainer being crushed by the orca happened, Samantha didn’t even work at SeaWorld?
      No, you probably didn’t know that, because the film wants to manipulate you like that.

      You do know that when she started working at SeaWorld, it was 3 years after the incident, at a different facility, and she didn’t even work with orcas and at the time had no intention to work with orcas?

      She did NOT start working with orcas until about a year and a half at SeaWorld, yet she knew about the incident 6 months after starting work at SeaWorld…

      As this article states, the people who were supposed to know WERE told about it. Not some

    • You know they edit documentaries, right? If the information she provided wasn’t used, why on earth would you think the interview she could have provided would have been used?

    • ilovedisneyland90

      she COULDNT tell the truth because she would probably be edited out! So she thought ahead!

  • shoewee

    I’m so glad I saw this article. I knew Blackfish exposed some bad parts of Sea World, but I also know that Sea World has done an amazing amount of good by helping hurt animals and teaching the average person about them. I still remember going to Sea World Ohio and seeing them for the first time. I was mesmerized. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I struggled with science, but my love of marine animals has never wavered. It killed me to watch her video at the end because that was what Sea World was. Now its just a joke with the shows. You can see the bond between the whale and the trainer. Its there. I am sure the animals were devastated when the humans could no longer come in the water with them, lay with them, lay on them, pet them, encourage them physically. There has to be a happy medium. I think she says to end the entertainment because now its not showing the same interaction between the two species. Now its just having the whales do tricks like a circus. Its lost its intimacy. How sad. Thank you for sharing this, it makes me feel a little better about Sea World. I still worry how they treat Tilikum though. Tilikum is a very depressed whale.

    • evergreen

      Sea World’s trainers were never permitted to free swim with the orcas, even before the fatal incident.

  • OprylandUSA

    Unfortunately, “Blackfish” got what it wanted. It did, indeed, make the shortlist for the Academy Awards Best Documentary category. Time will tell if it will make the official nomination, but I’m betting it will. Sadly.

    To me, it always seemed just like that… crass promotion of itself.

    • dazyhill

      If “Blackfish” did make the cut for the official Academy Awards ballot, only members of the Academy who attended screenings of each of the documentary films can cast votes in the Best Documentary category. (The same rule applies to short films.)

  • While I’m not thrilled with the idea of Orca in small tanks, it’s quite apparent that Blackfish is a film with an animal rights agenda based in emotion over reality. The director of the film appears to have lied to Bridgette, Mark and others to get the story that she already knew she wanted to tell. She used these trainers to hang her false narrative.

    There’s no doubt that Blackfish has had a negative impact on SeaWorld and I’d also like to see others who worked on the film or who work for SeaWorld speak up against the inaccuracies in the film.

    Here’s the open letter that SeaWorld recently posted about Blackfish:

    SeaWorld: The Truth Is in Our Parks and People

    An Open Letter from SeaWorld’s Animal Advocates

    Inaccurate reports recently have generated questions about SeaWorld and the animals in our care. The truth is in our parks and people, and it’s time to set the record straight.

    The men and women of SeaWorld are true animal advocates. We are the 1,500 scientists, researchers, veterinarians, trainers, marine biologists, aquarists, aviculturists, educators and conservationists who have dedicated our lives to the animals in our care as well as those in the wild that are injured, ill or orphaned. Whether it’s a sea lion, manatee, sea turtle or whale, we are on call 24/7.

    Here are some important facts about SeaWorld and our work:

    SeaWorld does not capture killer whales in the wild. Due to the groundbreaking success of our research in marine mammal reproduction, we haven’t collected a killer whale from the wild in 35 years. In fact, only two of the whales in our care were collected by SeaWorld and they continue to be in our care today. In addition, our research has led to a much greater understanding of whales in the wild, giving researchers important scientific insights surrounding marine mammal reproduction.

    We do not separate killer whale moms and calves. SeaWorld recognizes the important bond between mother and calf. On the rare occasion that a mother killer whale cannot care for the calf herself, we have successfully hand raised and reintroduced the calf. Whales are only moved to maintain a healthy social structure.

    SeaWorld invests millions of dollars in the care of our killer whales. In the last three years alone, we have invested $70 million in our killer whale habitats and millions of dollars annually in support of these facilities. Our habitats are among the largest in the world today. They are state-of-the-art, multimillion-gallon environments of cooled and filtered water that allow for the highest and safest standards of care. We give our animals restaurant-quality fish, exercise, veterinary care, mental stimulation, and the company of other members of their species.

    SeaWorld’s killer whales’ life spans are equivalent with those in the wild. While studies continue to define the average life span of killer whales in the wild, the most recent science suggests that our killer whales’ life spans are comparable — indeed, five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50.

    The killer whales in our care benefit those in the wild. We work with universities, governmental agencies and NGOs to increase the body of knowledge about and the understanding of killer whales — from their anatomy and reproductive biology to their auditory abilities. Some populations of wild killer whales have been classified as endangered or threatened, demonstrating the potential critical nature of these research opportunities. This type of controlled research and study is simply not possible in the wild, and has significant real-world benefits to the killer whales that live there.

    SeaWorld is a world leader in animal rescue. The millions of people who visit our parks each year make possible SeaWorld’s world-renowned work in rescue, rehabilitation and release. We are constantly innovating when it comes to this care: Our veterinarians have created nursing bottles to hand-feed orphaned whales, prosthetics to save sea turtles, and a wetsuit to help injured manatees stay afloat during rehabilitation. Whether it’s the result of natural or man-made disasters, SeaWorld is always on call and often the first to be contacted. We have rescued more than 23,000 animals with the goal of treating and returning them to the wild.

    Naturalist Baba Dioum put it best when he said, “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.”

    At SeaWorld, this has been our calling since we first opened our doors 50 years ago. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly. More than 400 million guests have visited SeaWorld. We are proud that their experiences here have a lasting and positive impact on them, and on the world in which we live.

    The truth about SeaWorld is right here in our parks and people. Our guests may enter our gates having never given much thought to the remarkable animals in our oceans. When they leave with a greater appreciation for the importance of the sea, educated about the animals that live there and inspired to make a difference, we have done our job.

    • red barchetta

      There are many articles pointing out the inaccuracies and lies of their open letter. Here’s just one such example:


      • CreepyMonkey

        That is just another letter posted by the radicals who support Blackfish. The so called “facts” in it are distortions of the truth. The real truth is, the people who made Blackfish lied about what they were doing, manipulated the film so it would elicit an emotional response from its audience based on falsehoods and misleading facts, and the film is faulty to its core. Any film based on lies and distortions is not a documentary; by definition it is fiction.

    • jcruise86

      Thanks, Dusty.

    • evergreen

      You are ignoring the basic fact that keeping these animals in small cement tanks and forcing them to perform for food cuts their life spans short. It is is cruel and inhumane. As a former trainer, I wish there was a way I could get you to see the truth. How do I do that:? How do I get you to feel the pain that these animals are feeling? It requires you to open your heart and, apparantly – based on the comments posted here – none of the Sea World defenders are willing to do that.

      • DisneyPhreak

        Exactly. What is so hard to understand how very awful the life of a killer whale in captivity is like. And as another person posted, very odd that this topic is on a Disney blog.

    • The First Star

      I don’t think she lied.

      She explains in this piece (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/23/opinion/blackfish-filmmaker-statement/) that as a mother who took her kids to Sea World, she originally set out to tell the story of Dawn Brancheau. But as she delved deeper into the material, she realized the real underlying problem was the treatment of the animals and the resulting development of mental/behavioral issues.

      Since I already knew that the scope of the subject shifted during the production of this film, this MiceChat article did not surprise me or change my attitude towards Sea World.

    • The First Star

      I posted the rebuttal of a leading expert on the Sea World forum. It’s too long to post here, but it can be found here: http://micechat.com/forums/seaworld/184977-see-blackfish-before-going-seaworld-4.html#post1057047320

      • evergreen

        Thank you for posting that.

  • Advent

    This article really seems like picking nits, and with how sensational that headline is it really makes me question the relationship between MiceChat and SeaWorld.

    You even admit that she and the film have the same goal of ending the Orca shows and breeding program!

    Come on, guys. You sound like damage control at the tobacco companies, trying to discredit the science rather than own up.

    • If you’d like to believe that Blackfish is accurate, then just go right on believing that. We can’t make you change your mind, nor are we trying to. We are simply presenting the testimony of one trainer who worked on the film and was lied to by the director and we now have the comments of a second trainer who claims that he was also lied to by the director.

      • TodAZ1

        And, Dusty, you’re presenting the other side of the argument. Something which the film, apparently, didn’t feel the need to do. Who could possibly argue with both sides of the argument being presented?

      • Anaheimhomeboy

        Dusty I respect you, but how can you say you are simply presenting the testimony of one trainer when the name of your article is “Blackfish Exposed by Former SeaWorld Trainer” “Killer Agenda”? Your response is condescending to the readers of the site “If you’d like to believe that Blackfish is accurate, then just go right on believing that”. And lastly it is alleged that Ms. Pirtle was lied to by the director of Blackfish, its’ not a fact.

        P.S. I am not the type of person that would say I’ll never read your site again. Nor am I trying to be mean, just having a spirited debate.



      • Yoon

        From your comments above, you seem to be making the claim that this documentary cannot be trusted because it has an agenda, and therefore is not objective. Should we apply the same level of skepticism to this article? Does Sea World, one of their employees, or this website, for that matter, not have an agenda?

  • TVsRobLowe

    What I think is interesting is who funded the film and when it was released:

    ‘Blackfish’ premiered approximately 2 months after SeaWorld stock went public. CNN and PETA funded the film, with PETA being on SeaWorld’s board of directors.

    Someone is trying to sink SeaWorld stock and using the guise of a ‘documentary’ to do it, in order to perform a hostile takeover at the lowest price. It’s no secret that Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, is a former owner of SeaWorld Australia and is currently seeking the rights to open and own SeaWorld parks in Southeast Asia.

    Even on Disney World’s guest surveys, more guests choose only SeaWorld as the answer to “Are you visiting any other theme parks on your trip”. Why? Because SeaWorld offers something that both Disney and Universal do not offer. In the theme park world, SeaWorld is valuable and unique.

    Whoever swoops in a purchases them can come in and declare “We’re going to change things” and be hailed as a hero, and with that, stock will grow.

    Follow the money.

  • airick75

    I have long had conflicting thoughts over things like zoos and Sea World…as Dusty said above, I’m not thrilled about the idea of orca’s in captivity either. But, here’s a thought for you:

    Is not having a dog, which you keep inside your house or yard – with closed doors, or a fence, or even at times a leash, a very similar thing? (Notice I don’t say “exactly” but it’s an idea worth considering for its similarities). Don’t you do these things because otherwise the dog would run away, wild and free? Oh, you say he/she wouldn’t because dogs often come back to their families? That’s exactly what has happened when they’ve tried to free orcas. Same with horses, actually.

    I think the Sea World issue is a complex one- as the trainer interviewed indicates. Even she is still torn over her feelings. I don’t think anyone should be pointing fingers.

    • airick75

      P.S. Micechat, please add a like/dislike style feature…at least a “like”…to the forums. Those would be fun and helpful, especially in a discussion like this.

      • jcruise86

        I “dislike” this idea. There is enough simplicity out there.

    • Yoon

      It’s not even close. Dogs have been domesticated and have been living closely with humans for thousands of years. Even most feral dogs tend to live near/around humans and depend on trash/scraps humans leave behind for survival.

      Whales are very intelligent, but they are NOT domesticated. Just because we can train them to do tricks for our entertainment does not mean that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two species.

      Furthermore, you analogy is a bit off. You cannot compare putting a 6 ton animal in a large tank to giving your dog free range in your yard. A more apt comparison would be to compare it to a dog left in a large cage but is never allowed to leave it for its entire life. This comparison is even more faulty when you consider the fact that killer whales can migrate over 100 miles a day. Dogs do not have the same biological urge to migrate as whales do.

      • jcruise86

        Good post, Yoon.

        Now the beautiful elephant in the room. Would dolphins be next?

        Maybe Sea World should announce that all orcas will be out of its parks by 2020. They might get a lot of extra visitors over the next 5+ years. Remember Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade and the crowds that saw it before it left . . . FOREVER!

    • DisneyPhreak

      You can’t seriously be comparing domesticated dogs and horses with whales…

  • ranman101

    After months of spreading lies about the SeaWorld parks, Blackfish has finally been exposed by Orca trainers who worked on the film.

    I’m concerned that the editors are such experts that they can call what’s in Blackfish lies. As pointed out in previous post….

    What would Bridgette do if she was in charge of SeaWorld?

    “I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.”

    So she also has concerns. I think Blackfish raised lots of questions. The interesting part to me is that Sea World has refused interviews. This needs to be looked at from an unbiased group. People here are biased (not all) based on this is a theme park website. The film crew also has a personal stake, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem at Sea World.

    I understand that many of us have learned so much from Sea World, and am not anti Sea World. I just think everyone needs to stop taking one side or the other. Lets have someone look into this and see if Sea World can make things better, or if they must stop.

  • RosevilleDisfan

    Whether or not, you think it’s right for SeaWorld to keep and train orcas seems to be a separate issue than keeping an animal that has killed 3 human beings. I am an animal control officer in CA and we put down animals that have attacked humans, for those of us in Animal control it would be a public safety matter. Why is this situation any different. I can’t even imagine keeping an animal that has Killed 3 people, this seems crazy to me. When that poor girl in Vancouver was killed this animal should have been put down, not sold and allowed to kill 2 more people.

  • Jungle Trekkie

    Sea World probably does deserve a lot of credit for introducing millions of people to orcas and inspiring concern for their conservation and welfare.

    Until the last few decades we didn’t know much about orcas or their culture in the wild. Now we know that they have very complex social systems and ecology.

    Is there a large and complex enough facility to adequately house captive pods of orcas anywhere in the world? Sea World would obviously argue yes. The scientific evidence doesn’t seem to bear this out.

    Can Sea World or any institution adequately house and care for cetaceans? That is the ultimate question that captive institutions need to address.

    They have been treating cetaceans as circus animals rather than authentic conservation ambassadors. If they can find a way to adequately house cetaceans and meet their mental and physical needs in a captive environment and move away from circus type shows to genuinely educational ones then the public would probably accept captive cetaceans. If not, then they have a very long and probably losing PR battle on their hands.

  • Mousecat

    I am always amazed about how things change. If it were not for SeaWorld who would actually care about Killer Whales? They would have been tossed in with sharks and giant squids to be feared. SeaWorld personalized them, made plush toys that could be hugged, and got kids interested in the animals. Now that generation has grown up and they want change.


  • Big D

    Well, I don’t know anything about orcas or Sea World specifically, but I definitely know about theme parks and corporations, and so without seeing the documentary I can tell you that there is going to be tension between the people who work for Sea World who are interested in animal protection and preservation, and the people who work for Sea World who are interested in making money. My observations of Sea World is that they do a better job then anyone else in trying to make sure the animals have a nice habitat, but that still doesn’t mean they do a good job. The problem is that Sea World is for profit, and for them to be for profit and also genuinely interested in the welfare of their animals beyond simply being able to make more money off of them the longer they live is always going to be a bit of a conflict of interest. So what it comes down to is that Sea World is not ideal, but it’s the best we have.

  • 919Florida

    Finally a news article that brings out the truth and what Gabriella’s agenda was all along. It’s pretty telling about the person she is when she told Bridgette to wait until after the awards season to speak. WOW. Thank you for bringing this information to light now.

    While no one person or company is perfect (you can’t be perfect) SeaWorld is not bad and nowhere near what the film made it out to be there. The animal care is world class. 23000 animals rescued and millions and millions of dollars donated it speaks volumes for what SeaWorld is all about

    Yes, SeaWorld is an educational place as well. I have personally learned a lot in the park about marine life and our oceans and owe it all to SeaWorld for making me a better steward for the environment.

  • TimmyTimmyTimmy

    I will onl visit SeaWorld when they don´t have any orcas or dolphins there anymore. Nothing anybody says can justify the prison that SeaWorld is.

    • lighttragic

      I guess we should stop supporting Disney then because they do have disneys animal kingdom and the horses at disneyland/magic kingdom etc. . Is having animals in zoos and wildlife parks ideal no but they serve an informative purpose

      • IndyFan1

        Whales are not the same as anteaters. Orcas travel tens of thousands of miles in their lifetime. They migrate more then any other marine animal and they’re being contained in tank that’s the equivalent of putting a human in small windowless prison cell for their entire life. It doesn’t matter how many zoologists or scientists or orca trainers try to couter-point it and give the advantages of their captivity, this isn’t about science. It’s about ethics and the general treatment of other creatures. If a group of sociologists and anthropologists wrote a doctorate about the benefits of slavery, would it become any less heinous an act? Of course not. The way I see it, any science-based support of their captivity is completely irrelevant to the point.

      • StevenW

        Hey, elephants migrate hundreds of miles, just like lions, tigers, giraffes. However, they are losing their habitates in Africa and other locations. Sometimes you have to cage them. It isn’t getting better in the open oceans.

        Do you know that the seas are depleted of fish and mammals? Overfishing has caused major problems. Thus, we do keep to keep some animals in captivity, which in some ways, it is about maintaining the species for future generations.

  • Klutch

    The fact PETA is involved with the “Blackfish” film completely destroys its credibility. I know a lot of people like and support PETA. But they are a completely self-serving organization bent on obtaining maximum dollars through maximum media exposure.

    I used to live near the PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. When they first came to town, they criticized local shelters for euthanizing animals. PETA promised they would find homes for animals. Then, surprise, they were caught red-handed dumping dead animals in local dumpsters. This is the real PETA.

    It’s tragic the makers of Blackfish chose to make a film purely to forward a radical and inaccurate agenda with no attempt to present a realistic point of view. Unfortunately, such situation are all too typical these days. In any war of opposing viewpoints, the truth is the first casualty.

  • TodAZ1

    It’s funny, but a lot of people think that only Republicans and big corporations have political agendas and conspire to get THEIR position in the forefront of thought and action. If this article tells you anything, it’s that BOTH sides (right/left, Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative) lie. Both sides obfuscate. Both sides have agendas. And both sides will do ANYTHING to get that agenda through. And, sometimes, it all comes down to one little filmmaker, trying to make it in the world of show-bid’ness! Truth be damned.
    I’m more than positive that there is truth and fact on both sides of the argument, but, as usual, when the two sides do argue, they are rarely arguing about the same thing. One side wants all whales freed and they ignore the benefits, to both the whales and human knowledge about them that can and has been used to help orcas. The other side doesn’t want to free the whales, yet they ignore the genetic disposition the whales have of migration. Neither is willing to meet in the middle and work on a better solution. It’s “my way or nothing” kind of thinking. You can see this same scenario playing out in just about every other argument going on in the world today. The healthcare/Obama Care debate is the biggest example. The right doesn’t want it because it’s causing alot of people who do have healthcare to lose it because it doesn’t meet some government standard. And that’s their argument. The left loves it because millions of people who didn’t have healthcare now do (or will). So, the right ignores the people who didn’t have healthcare and the left ignores the people who are losing their healthcare. Again, it seems like they aren’t arguing about the same thing. There’s no coming together. And the same is happening in this debate on this movie.

    • StevenW

      ” If this article tells you anything, it’s that BOTH sides (right/left, Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative) lie. Both sides obfuscate.”

      I hate this line of argument because it isn’t true. The left will intentionally lie. The right will insist their position is right because they are right, not because it is a lie. The fact that you have to say both are equivalent means you don’t understand that this Blackfish film is intentionally misleading period. The film industry is mostly ran by leftists. The right doesn’t have much of a stake in doing misleading documentaries.

      • TodAZ1

        Actually, your response pretty much reinforces my post. Both sides think they are correct and have the truth on their side and will do ANYTHING to push that “truth” (read “agenda) through.

      • StevenW

        @TodAZ1: Your response shows that if you don’t have respect of the word “truth”, the truth can mean anything. You call an agenda to be equivalent to “truth = lie”, that’s only true if an agenda is not argued honestly.

        If I wish to win an argument, I will do it honestly.

      • Yoon

        “The left will intentionally lie. The right will insist their position is right because they are right, not because it is a lie.”

        Wow. This is not at all subjective, is it?

      • TodAZ1

        Correct – honest to your set of beliefs. In other words, your truth. Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Steven. Truth CAN mean anything. It’s facts that can’t be argued. 2 + 2 = 4. Fact. Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior and died for our sins and was resurrected 3 days later. Someone’s truth. Not mine, but someone’s. And many arguments/debates have started based on that truth. And many others. Truth leads to an agenda that, to those that believe in that truth, must be furthered. But it’s not a fact.

      • EC82

        Do you REALLY believe that, StevenW? Have you seen any right-wing documentaries, like “Michael Moore Hates America,” “Expelled,” “2016 Obama’s America” or “Occupy Unmasked”?

        “Blackfish” is HARDLY a “left-wing” documentary, though I’m guessing (just a guess) you probably didn’t see it.

        The idea that both sides lie, both sides obfuscate is certainly true. As producer Robert Evans put it, “There are three sides to every story — your side, my side and the truth.”

      • Marko50

        Dang, Yoon. You beat me to it.

      • StevenW

        Sorry, how could there be 3 sides to an argument when Tod identified the fourth side, FACTS. So truth equals lie, but does not equal facts.

        How can you I never seen a right wing documentary? Most often they are rebuttals to an existing left wing argument like ones that Michael Moore has made. “Expelled” is quite provocative. Whatever you’re guessing (imaging), keep it up.

      • TodAZ1

        Fact is not the same as truth. 3 sides to the truth is absolutely correct. Facts only have one side.

      • TodAZ1

        Fact: something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence

        Truth: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true.

    • ranman101

      Great post. The problem here to me is that Sea World has not come fourth and discussed this other than to put out letters. I think Sea World does in fact help more than they hurt. Yet they do need to address issues raised by this film. Yes, every film has some kind of agenda, but that doesn’t mean it’s all a lie. I hope at some point Sea World will come out and really speak. I also wish some outside third party without an agenda could research this subject and see if Sea World is doing something wrong, or it’s all good, or there is something they can improve. Not sure if the no agenda part is possible.

  • lynxwiler

    In the end I agree with the film’s desire to end Sea World’s orca captivity and breeding program. In the end, I also agree with Interviewee Bridgette Pirtle’s desire to end Sea World’s orca captivity and breeding program. Or did I read that wrong? Don’t the film and Pirtle both agree in the end?

    Interviewee Bridgette Pirtle thought the documentary would be about Sr. Trainer Dawn Brancheau as a tribute to her and her work. That’s a noble intent, but what the documentary was really about was far larger than one woman’s work with orca’s. Brancheau, to my recollection, was not demeaned in this film in any way. Rather the film revealed that Sea World was involved in a coverup scandal in a death that was fully preventable – not just one trainer’s death but multiple deaths.

    I have no intention of ever seeing another orca “show” at Sea World or anywhere else. They never should have been hunted down in the wild, separated from their family packs, thrown into pods with unknown orcas, and forced by starvation to perform at our whim.

    As much as I hate that these orcas are trapped in performance stadiums and giant fish tanks, also knowing that these trapped mammals can’t go back to the open ocean is heartbreaking. I don’t think anyone has said it yet, but the orca tanks and shows should be completely phased out. No more breeding/inbreeding and no more stealing baby orcas from the wild.

    I don’t think Pirtle should be offended by the film or the director since they all essentially share the same goals in ending the orca breeding and capture program. Blackfish turned out to be a film that is far larger than what Pirtle imagined, but has a message I think we all need to hear.

    And in case you were wondering, here’s a list of all of Shamu’s shows from Sea World San Diego:
    1966-1971 Doctor Doolittle
    1971-1973 Shamu Goes Hollywood
    1974-1975 Shamu for Mayor
    1975-1976 Shamu the Yankee Doodle Whale
    1977-1979 Shamu Goes to College
    1980-1982 This is Shamu!
    1984-1987 Shamu Take a Bow
    1986-2006 Shamu Celebration
    1987-1988 Shamu’s House of Douse
    1988-1989 Shamu’s Water Symphony
    1989-1991 Baby Shamu Celebration
    1992-1995 New Visions
    1995-1998 Shamu World Focus

    The first Shamu, a female, in the Sea World chain of theme parks was captured in Puget Sound in 1965 and died on August 23, 1971 after six years in captivity.

    • TodAZ1

      “Interviewee Bridgette Pirtle thought the documentary would be about Sr. Trainer Dawn Brancheau as a tribute to her and her work. That’s a noble intent, but what the documentary was really about was far larger than one woman’s work with orca’s. Brancheau, to my recollection, was not demeaned in this film in any way. Rather the film revealed that Sea World was involved in a coverup scandal in a death that was fully preventable – not just one trainer’s death but multiple deaths.”

      One would think the film makers could say that to Ms. Pirtle rather than lying to her to get her to do interviews for the movie.

      • evergreen

        Of course. But it doesn’t change the basic facts. Both the film-makers and the trainer want the expolitation of these animals to stop.

      • TodAZ1

        Yep. But, again, perhaps the film makers could have told Ms. Pirtle the truth about what the film was going to be about. They may have found out they had a lot in common. But they chose to lie to her in order to get what they wanted. Tactics like that undermine the message being presented in the film.

      • The First Star

        Good point, TodAZ1. I feel it’s disingenuous to lead the public on like that.

        A couple of years ago, I was driving down the 5 freeway with my boyfriend when we saw a billboard advertising a Shamu show. As someone who didn’t know anything about the subject, I was excited to think Shamu was still alive and performing. My boyfriend got nostalgic as he recalled seeing Shamu when he was a kid. We started planning a day trip to San Diego right away.

        And then I decided to look up Shamu’s age. Of course, it turned out that Shamu had died before either me or my boyfriend were even born.

        And then I found out that the life span of captive orca is significantly lower than that of wild orca.

        It was a definite turn-off to be sure, but I was still considering doing a dolphin swim for my birthday. And then I read “The Dolphin in the Mirror” by Diana Reiss. She worked at Marine World, where I went as a kid; in her book, she discusses the stress captive Cetacea endure in parks like Sea World. Loud noises from roller coasters, crowds, pumped in music, etc., etc., etc. They’re so intelligent, and we keep them in kiddie pools. I can’t. I just can’t.

      • The First Star

        Good point, lynxwilen*

    • jcruise86

      Actually the ’77 show was “Shamu Goes to Community College”.

      2017-2019 Farewell, Shamu!

    • DisneyPhreak

      Well said

    • The First Star

      Lol sorry, that was lynxwilwer’s point. This format doesn’t cooperate very well with my phone.

  • evergreen

    All of you Sea World defenders are conveniently skipping over the most important thing the trainer said when asked what she do if she was in charge of SeaWorld:

    “I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.”

    As a former trainer, I agree. If you knew the psychological pain the animals experience, you would not support keeping orcas and dolphins in captivity for entertainment purposes. It is cruel and inhumane.

    • TodAZ1

      And you’re skipping over the part where the film maker lied to Ms. Pirtle about what the film would REALLY be about. And also that she told Pirtle to not talk about the movie until after awards season is over.

      See? Both sides are ignoring things about the other side’s arguments.

      • evergreen

        Whether the film has an agenda or not is not the issue. I couldn’t care less about whether or not the film makers wanted to win an Oscar or whether the trainer was misled about the tone of the film.

        The issue is about the well-being of the animals.

        When the trainer said: “I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.” – the interviewer didn’t ask her “Why?” Why would she want to end the breeding program?” And you don’t ask that either. Don’t you care why she would say that? What would cause her to say that? Think.

      • Marko50

        Um, no. The article started off being about and ended with being about the movie “Blackfish”. Period.

      • TodAZ1

        evergreen, you should ALWAYS be aware of the agenda of the film makers. As someone has stated here before, the general public just view documentaries as if they were bona fide “facts” with no other side of the argument. That is hardly ever the case.

        If you agree with the agenda, that’s fine. But agendas of the film makers drive the narrative of the documentary. It’ll be slanted/spun to further that agenda, no matter what.

      • The First Star

        Again, this is the filmmaker’s previously stated reasoning for shifting the focus of the film:


        The first treatment was supposed to focus heavily on Dawn, but things changed as the film was in production. This has been publicly acknowledged by the filmmaker herself. Here are some excerpts from her statement:

        “I set out to understand this incident, not as an animal activist — because I’m not one — but as a mother who had just taken her kids to SeaWorld, and of course as a documentary filmmaker who unfortunately can’t let sleeping dogs lie.”

        “I can say that my crew and I are all profoundly changed by the experience. I know that killer whales are not suitable for captivity. I am dedicated to spreading the word. The early deaths, the grieving, the boredom, the daily fighting and the attacks — what we learned over two years is impossible to shake. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.”

  • TodAZ1
    • TodAZ1

      And a nice link back to this article. Nice job, MiceChat!! 🙂

  • Anaheimhomeboy

    I have a real problem with this article. It seems so out of the blue and out of step to what Miceage usually provides. The truth and fact finding are what make Miceage great. At that point this article is presented as a universal de-bunking of everything Blackfish brings to light. Most all documentaries have been busted for sensationalizing the truth and Blackfish is no different. The facts that no one can dispute are the following

    1.) Tillikum killed 3 people
    2.) Seaworld lied and tried to say that Dawn slipped and fell into the tank when she died until the tourist video was released
    3.) Killer Whale Families were separated in captivity by Seaworld
    4.) SeaWorld lied about the Orca lifespan

    Not one time does Ms. Bridgette Pirtle discuss that Tillikum is dangerous. At no time does Miceage ask her what about the 3 deaths by one animal?

    What makes Ms. Pirtle an expert on whales and the other trainers in the documentary not experts? Guess what, none of these trainers are experts. Not even Ms. Pirtle. What they do have is a knowledge of what is was like, first hand to work with these animals on a daily basis.

    At no time during this article was the Loro Parque story discussed and her thoughts on what happened there.

    At no time is Ms. Pirtle asked about the blatant lie that Orcas only live for 25 to 30 years in the wild, a claim made by Seaworld for many years.

    If Ms. Pirtle is so right then why did OSHA make the determination that trainers could not come in contact with the whales unless they were behind a 2 ft barricade?

    Ms. Pirtle is right that most of these animals introduced back into the wild do not fair well, but that is because they do not know how to protect themselves nor do they have a pod (family) to protect them.

    I have read some other interviews with Ms. Pirtle that have come out over the past year. At first they were slight criticisms of the film but she ultimately gave the film an endorsement because of the message on animal rights. Now she is changing her tune and she is now condemning a film about animal rights. Why does she feel the need to do this? Makes you wonder why now and if someone is paying her to express her new opinions. What about Miceage? Is Miceage being asked to run this article? Will we see some great give-a-ways from Seaworld through miceage coming up? I really hope not.

    This article really made my suspicion meter jump, I hope it did for others as well.

    Your thoughts?

    • evergreen

      Obviously MiceChat has an agenda to defend Sea World. They are not interested in the whole story.

      When the trainer said: “I would end animals for entertainment purposes, and stop the breeding program.” – the interviewer didn’t ask her “Why?”

      WHY would she want to end the breeding program? What is so wrong with Sea World that would cause her to say that? These are logical questions any inquiring person would ask.

    • evergreen

      Life spans of captive orcas is much less than that of wild orcas. (And pointing to a few captive orcas that have lived long lives is not science. It is merely anecdote.)

      Here are the facts:

    • Yoon

      I can’t disagree with anything you’ve pointed out. I understand that Micechat will naturally defend a corporation that they have a relationship with, especially when the success of this website depends on the viability of the theme parks that gives this website its purpose, but it is unfortunate nonetheless.

      I think 20 years from now, Sea World will still exist, but it will only be about water-themed rides, attractions, and education, and not based on shows that require the confinement of very intelligent animals that are forced to perform tricks for an audience. It is a shame that MiceChat can’t be on the side of positive change in this instance, and instead holds onto an antiquated notion that these animals should be bred to live in poor conditions and completely against their natural instincts so that we can be entertained.

      • Hastin Zylstra

        “It is a shame that MiceChat can’t be on the side of positive change in this instance, and instead holds onto an antiquated notion that these animals should be bred to live in poor conditions and completely against their natural instincts so that we can be entertained.”

        Please don’t put words in our mouth, and read the article again. We’re presenting her opinion, and what they filmmakers did to get her to interview. While I don’t agree with the methods that Blackfish filmmakers used to get their message across, I do personally believe that these types of shows are becoming outdated.

        There was a time when just about every theme park (Knott’s, etc.) had a dolphin show with tiny tanks, and over the years – they have been phased out.

        I do think Seaworld does lots of good for animals, when it come to rescue and research – and they can continue to do those great things without this form of entertainment.

    • Skylala

      “4.) SeaWorld lied about the Orca lifespan

      “At no time is Ms. Pirtle asked about the blatant lie that Orcas only live for 25 to 30 years in the wild, a claim made by Seaworld for many years. ”
      Keep in mind that’s an ‘average’.

      Let me ask you, have you ever actually done research on wild orca lifespans yourself? I mean, not typing in google “Orca lifespan” and reading a couple of websites, but actually really looking into it? Looking at the REAL stats of how old orcas were when they died, how old the orcas currently alive are?

      I bet the answer is no.

      Well, I have.
      Looking at almost 300 individual animals over various populations and the average age they died?
      30.14 years.

      Do you know that in the most studied population of orcas in the world (The most famous one for having the ONLY known ‘100 year old orca’ in the world)
      Among those 80 individuals, not a single animal is listed in the age bracket of 50-75 years (Only 2 were in the 76+ age bracket and they way they ‘guessed’ those ages is sketchy at best)
      Most animals in the population are listed in the 11-25 year olds (Which would also suggest that the age bracket above that is when most of them die. That would make 35 years seem pretty reasonable, no?)

      We are not in the 1970’s any more, and these ‘Average ages’ that are spread so widely over the internet are based off GUESSES and estimates from then. 40 years have passed of TRUE study and it’s clear that the data doesn’t add up. Yet no one updates their ‘facts’ do they?

      • evergreen

        You stats are very interesting. Can you pleased cite your sources or where we can find this info? Thanks.

      • Anaheimhomeboy

        Please provide your source. Based on research by NOAA: males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years; females typically live about 50 years,but can live as long as 80-90 years

        NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division of the United States Dept of Commerce.

    • DisneyPhreak

      I agree Anaheimhomeboy. It’s the questions that the interviewer didn’t ask Ms. Pirtle that made me suspicious of the agenda of the article. Calling them trainers is a joke; Ms. Pirtle is an entertainer at best. I hope in time she gains some perspective on this she will have deeper thoughts about her “profession”.

  • agave

    It seriously depresses me to see Micechat run this kind of article. When posters acuse Micechat of being overly negative about Disney, aren’t we told that Micechat is holding Disney’s feet to the fire because it cares about Disney and wants to see it do better? But I guess since Seaworld is not Disney then it can escape Micechat’s watchdog style of reporting, and instead we get this piece of “reporting.” All of this is even more heinous since we are discussing an issue involving HUMAN LIVES that were lost. DEATH, people. DEATH was involved here.

    What was the point of this article? For Miss Pirtle to say she was mislead into thinking the documentary would be solely about the death of one trainer? Fine. She thought it would be more about Dawn the trainer who died than about SeaWorld’s attempts throughout the years to coverup and deny charges made against it and its captivity program. Fine. She thought those things. Does any of that change the content of the film? Does any of that change that a human life was lost and that SeaWorld attempted to blame the dead trainer until a visitor came forward with video showing it was not the trainers fault? Does the fact that Miss Pirtle felt deceived about what the film would be about change the reality that Tillikum the whale killed 3 human beings, including a homeless “drifter” whose genitals he bit off?

    Dusty just commented that this article is trying to present Miss Pirtle’s point of view not push an agenda… really? Look at the heading. The line of questioning Micechat did… My god, if Micechat had a chance to confront Michael Eisner or Paul Pressler back in the dark days of Disneyland, would we have gotten this kind of article? Any objective person would say this article is attempting to smear the film Blackfish not just present Pertle’s point of view. What is worse, Micechat is trying to discredit the film by attacking the film’s maker as having a selfish agenda. Well, what about the content of the film? The facts? Have you nothing to say about that? Can you only question the film’s maker’s ego, and not address the fact that Tillikum ate Dawn his trainer’s arm off and yet he’s still performing everyday at SeaWorld, all the while making them millions upon millions of dollars.

    To me, all of this comes off as Micechat smearing the film by going after it’s maker rather than answering the films charges, and then hiding behind Miss Pirtle and saying, “she said it, not us. We’re just reporting here.”

    • CreepyMonkey

      Seriously, this is a simple issue. Gabriela Cowperthwaite lied, she manipulated people and put out a film that is manipulative and misleading. This calls into question any and all content in the film.

      • TodAZ1

        Exactly, CreepyMonkey.

      • freeLolita

        I love how the anti-Blackfish people preach about how Blackfish only presents one point of view, but yet Ms. Pirtle expresses a view and it’s automatically the truth no questions asked. I guess you can only question when it’s convenient for you!

    • Anaheimhomeboy

      Agave, you are exactly right. This article bothers me more and more every day.

      To other posters, there is no evidence that the filmmakers lied to Ms. Pirtle. She saw the film, smiled for the pictures and went to the premiere. Why is she speaking out now? A year after the film’s premiere at Sundance?

      • TodAZ1

        What evidence COULD there be other than Pirtle stating they lied to her?

  • jcruise86

    I realize this is obnoxiously off-track, but I’m willing to be obnoxious for a good cause. I (again) would like orcas out of Sea World, but while we’re discussing decency and recreation: many (often outstanding) Disney Cruise Line CMs work 77 hours a week and/or go 4 months in a row without one day off. Of course, unlike orcas they choose to do so, but I’d like a 60 hour week maximum . . . as a start.

    And now back to getting Sea World to stop keeping the orcas that they caused us to love.

    • dazyhill

      Cruise ships are like cities. Just because most people are asleep at night, it does mean the city is that way too. There must always be people making sure the boat stays on course and afloat. There are people making sure the power stays on, the plumbing works, and the passengers and crew have food to eat. I’m simplifying it, but you get what I mean.
      The crew members may not get a full day off, but they do get a couple hours off each day.
      A 60 hour work week is not practical on a cruise ship.

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  • MonkeyDishwasher

    I know this is such a silly nitpick, and really adds nothing to the current conversation- but why is Ms. Portly credited as Bridgette in the article, and notated as Bridget in the pictures?

    • MonkeyDishwasher

      Ugh. Autocorrect!!! *Pirtle

  • MonkeyDishwasher

    Stupid auto correct! *Pirtle

  • StevenSokulski

    While I don’t feel like I can say whether or not Blackfish is right as I’m still processing all of this for myself, I do feel saddened that Bridgette did not feel she could take this story to a news outlet with a little more editorial conviction.

    Amid other typos, the source’s name is spelled at least two different ways throughout this entire article. I’ve come to expect the weak editorial voice, and I don’t come here for literary or editorial excellence. But I think we can all expect a little more than this.

  • Mazzy21

    The problem with this article is that this ex-trainer who is now supposedly coming out against Blackfish just keeps saying she wants “the truth” told, but never once mentions what that truth is. In addition, she says she wants to end Orca captivity and stop the breeding program. Am I missing something? Sounds like she agrees completely with Blackfish, so what exactly is this article about?? It seems to use a whole lot of words to say nothing at all.

  • Mazzy21

    I feel like this article is doing exactly what it was intended to do – make ‘regular people’ put words into the mouth of this ex-trainer simply due to the title stating that she is supposedly “debunking” the film. Never once in this article does she debunk the film. She says she wants the truth told, but doesn’t expand on that in any way. It’s a single, open-ended sentence that is designed for the public to ‘fill in the blank’. “I want the truth told” implying the truth isn’t being told now, but never comes right out and says that. The article itself is sensationalized. The article itself has an agenda. The article itself is written purposely to put an idea in the public mindset that doesn’t actually exist on the written page.

  • EC82

    She has not “exposed” “Blackfish.” As with most documentaries since pretty much the beginning of the form, “Blackfish” is a movie that has a definite view. The trouble is, SeaWorld never offered its own view in the film, or any opposing view whatsoever. The company waited several months until after the film’s release to issue a carefully worded statement, and that is all SeaWorld has done.

    This is a good, worthwhile topic, and the story here presents a thoughtful, passionate opposing view. But to slam the filmmakers saying they have a “Killer Agenda” is pretty salacious and not particularly responsible. You’re fighting fire with fire, trying to support a theme park you feel has been treated unfairly by filmmakers. And she has an axe to grind because she doesn’t like the way she was portrayed in the film.

    It would have been very interesting to position this article with a headline such as, “Former SeaWorld Trainer Unhappy with ‘Blackfish’ Film” or something a little more reasoned and less “controversial.” Let readers make up their own minds. If you feel the movie unfairly attacked SeaWorld, it could be easily argued this article unfairly attacks the filmmakers. Each side has its story.

    As a viewer, “Blackfish” was incredibly captivating, and quite disturbing when it showed SeaWorld’s court appearance. It was a well-told, well-constructed film that did not present itself as a news piece, but as a documentary from filmmakers who clearly DID have an agenda — though it seemed just as obvious to me that they DID try to get SeaWorld to participate.

    I’m not sure it does anyone any good to have an angry, upset former trainer go on the attack against the film, whereas it might have been a valuable addition to the discussion to simply present her voice and her argument.

    • GarbldeyGook

      Maybe we need a separate documentary about documentary-making, and how any form of journalism will undoubtedly focus on certain things while leaving others out in the service of clarity and brevity.

  • SpectroMan

    Thank you for this story. I’ve always known that Blackfish was one-sided; it’s been AMAZING the hordes jumping on the Sea World hate bandwagon. Just ignorance.

    • evergreen

      I am a former trainer. I am not on a “hate wagon” when I say that living in a small cement pond and being forced to do behaviors for food is bad for the health and well-being of the orcas. And I am certainly not ignorant. How arrogant of you to describe those who WORKED WITH ORCAS as ignorant.

      • TodAZ1

        evergreen, while you may or may not have been a former trainer (we have no way of knowing that for certain, but, sure, why not?) isn’t SpectroMan’s point. He’s talking about the band wagon of people that take ONE look at this film, assume it’s fact because, you know, it IS a documentary and why would the producers lie?

        THIS is the problem with lying to further your own agenda (whether it’s animal conservation or out and out career ambition). It undermines the essential truth you’re getting out to the public.

      • Anaheimhomeboy

        TodAZ1, I am still unsure about what the lie is? Again, there is no proof that Ms. Pirtle was lied to. It is her accusation. If you believe her then you are no different than anyone that watched the documentary and took it as fact.

        The fact remains that Tillikum the Whale killed 3 people.
        The fact remains that Seaworld tried to spin it as an accident and not an attack.

      • TodAZ1

        The lie is that the producers approached Pirtle with the direction the movie would take specifically to get Pirtle’s participation in the movie. Then went ahead and made the movie they originally intended to since the beginning. That’s the lie.

        And what proof do you want? If the producers of the movie came out and said Pirtle is not telling the truth, would you believe them?

  • fnord

    Wow, CreepyMonkey, you are truly creepy!
    And once again I implore Miceage to allow us once
    again to comment on particular posts and then queue
    up with other commenters directly after the post, not
    just in order of when posted, as when a thread gets longer,
    it can be difficult to tell who’s commenting on what.
    It would also be nice if like Facebook, when you comment
    and others also comment after, when you open the site
    it would show when people comment on the same
    This is an issue that has been relevant for many
    years, on pbs and elsewhere, and maybe a little
    over the heads of park enthusiasts. Like Creepy.
    But since we can’t queue up comments after a post,
    if Creepy complains about my singleing him out,
    I very well won’t see it. So I’ll go ahead and mention
    Malin and B & B’s Mom for their input on other

  • CADisneyMom

    I saw this documentary and was just sickened at the treatment of the whales, not when they were at SeaWorld but when they were up north (can’t remember the name of the place) where they were put into a “crate” that was just as big as they were. I respect SeaWorld for helping animals that are injured, that wash up to shore, etc. they treat them, get them healthy and release them back to the wild if they’re able to. Now as for blaming Dawn for what happened I do not believe that was true at all. It said that she wore her hair like that all the time in a ponytail so it shouldn’t have been different at that time. I think he may have mistook her hair for a fish and grabbed it but it certainly was an unfortunate incident. Orca’s, or killer whales, don’t eat humans routinely and in every case they never “ate” them, I believe they may have just mistaken them for seals which is part of their diet. This same kind of incident happens with the lions and tigers all the time at circuses but that doesn’t seem to get attention like this. Animals that were meant to be free in the ocean, in my opinion, should remain in the ocean they shouldn’t be put on display for peoples entertainment.

  • Admiral Boom

    I saw the movie and Iread this article with interest. It doesn’t strike me that she and the movie disagree materially–more tone than facts. And the conclusion she came to (stop breeding and stop using Orcas for entertainment) actually goes further than my own conclusion after watching the movie. It does sound, from her point of view, like the movie makers put marketing the movie over getting all the information and perspectives of those involved out there. That’s too bad, but not particularly surprising and probably about how it goes in any publicity effort.

    • TodAZ1

      I agree, Admiral.

      I think the problem with the producers of this movie is that, in all liklihood, the original concept was extremely sound (the preservation of these animals and exposing the current conditions/way of life of captivity of orcas). But, somewhere along the way, the film ITSELF became more important than the subject matter. And the producers went to extreme lengths to finish it. Even lying to get it completed how they wanted it. The ends don’t justify the means.

      In the end, that kind of thing never ends well and is soon found out by the public and actually hurts the original intention of the documentary.

      • Admiral Boom

        Yet the point I find most salient is Ms. Pirtle appears to agree with the criticism of SeaWorld. She’s unhappy that the movie has a different tone than she expected. But she seems to share the same conclusions as the film about what SeaWorld should do differently (stop using the orcas for entertainment and stop breeding). So I don’t really see how this article provides any defense for SeaWorld, as was implied by the headline “Blackfish Exposed…”

      • Admiral Boom

        And I don’t really think we agree about what you are saying we do TodAZ1. I was saying that publicity is naturally going to focus on certain elements. I don’t think this is “lying” nor did anything I read in this article amount to “extreme lengths” in my book.

  • iceicebergha

    Of course the filmmaker had an agenda. Any filmmaker, documentary or otherwise, has an agenda. As humans, we naturally support causes we believe in; causes that we feel will work towards an outcome we are looking for.

    I’m not entirely certain, but many times a documentarian will set out to make a certain film and, while conducting interviews and obtaining footage over time, will realize that an entirely different film is forming. The Lance Armstrong documentary that was released last year is a perfect example of this – the filmmaker set out to make a film about how extraordinary Lance was, and halfway through, witnesses the unraveling of a crazy scandal. Of course he has to change the course of the film at that point.

    Perhaps the trainer was misled, but this quote –

    “I thought she was making a movie that was going to be more respectable to the memory of Dawn, more understanding of the unique lives of killer whale trainers, the unique circumstances under which killer whale training is conducted now, and the loss that the current trainers felt and currently feel. I thought it would give some sort of closure; that it would give some sort of answer, create harmony, and it didn’t.”

    – doesn’t convince me. She doesn’t outright say what the filmmakers told her it would be about; in fact, she goes as far as to say that other trainers told her they were going to tell the “truth”, whatever that was.

    I’m not a trainer, but wouldn’t it have been worse if the film ended with SeaWorld having a squeaky clean image? Doesn’t it respect Dawn’s memory more to bring to light SeaWorld’s attempts at a cover-up, then their attempts to place blame on Dawn? Despite how you feel about SeaWorld, I think it speaks volumes about a company that would post-humously treat a well-respected and well-liked employee like that – just throw her under the bus to try and save their own behinds. At the very least, agenda pushing or not, this documentary brings many of those things to light. And, as others have pointed out, the end result and Brigette’s wishes moving forward are the same.

    • TodAZ1

      Someone before brought up the point that Seaworld refused to give interviews for the Blackfish movie. As it turns out, that was a smart thing to do. The film makers would take thoses interviews from Seaworld and edit them to whatever they wanted Seaworld to say. Anyone here, after reading this article, think the producers of Blackfish would just present these interviews with Seaworld honestly?

      Again, this is the problem with lying. It calls into question everything else about the documentary.

      • iceicebergha

        TodAZ1, I never mentioned SeaWorld’s decision to not partake in the interviews. When I am referencing SeaWorld, it is in regards to the way they spun Dawn’s death to the media, attempting to push the blame entirely on Dawn, in an attempt to cover up what truly happened. If you’ve seen the film (which I’m not sure if you have) this comes from the multiple news clips and interviews of SeaWorld staffers on the news immediately following the incident who state that it was her mistake. Perhaps the filmmakers did set out to make a film honoring Dawn’s memory, but SeaWorld did nothing to respect her in the immediate aftermath by placing the blame entirely on her.

        Of course, SeaWorld made a “smart” choice not to be interviewed, but the other side of the coin makes you wonder why they WOULDN’T want to be interviewed if they had nothing to hide?

        In her interview, as shown above, the following exchange happens:

        When I asked Bridgette what that “truth” was, she explained:

        “The truth is that it wasn’t Dawn’s fault. And that was the most important thing to me.”

        It was after this call that Bridgette was introduced to Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish. Here’s Bridgett’s account of what Gabriela told her the film would be about:

        “I thought she was making a movie that was going to be more respectable to the memory of Dawn, more understanding of the unique lives of killer whale trainers, the unique circumstances under which killer whale training is conducted now, and the loss that the current trainers felt and currently feel. I thought it would give some sort of closure; that it would give some sort of answer, create harmony, and it didn’t.”

        If you see the film, you will realize that the film DOES do a good job of convincing the audience it wasn’t Dawn’s fault – so whatever additional truth Bridgette felt needed to be said, I’m not sure, as she never says it in that interview, either. Also, in her answer, she mentions what she “thought” the film was going to be about. I would accuse the filmmaker of “lying” if the filmmaker outright said to Bridgette “this film will be solely about Dawn” but Bridgette also neglects to tell us exactly what the filmmaker said; she only tells us what she thought and/or assumes.

        I’m not saying the filmmaker is innocent here, but before anyone goes around pointing fingers or saying the film has no merit because someone cried wolf, perhaps a more in-depth reading of her responses is necessary, rather than an immediate reaction.

    • Mazzy21

      Actually I read some random blurb where the filmmakers of Blackfish said the same thing – that they started out to make a movie about ?? I can’t remember, honestly, but that upon interviewing people it just started to morph into what it ultimately became. Now maybe they really did start out to tell the tale of Orca training, which is, of course, a unique career, but we have no idea because this article on Micechat never once mentions what Prittle actually thought the movie was going to be about. She says (in the article) that she thought it was going to bring closure and that it was going to honor Dawn’s memory, but never says 1. in what way she feels the movie failed in that respect, and 2. what specific “truth”s she believes were left out. This article is incredibly, to an unbelievable level even, full of ‘nothing’; no actual content at all, just a sensationalized title and supposed quotes from someone repeatedly saying “I wanted the truth” but never what that truth is. It’s funny how many people on these comments have gladly put words in the article that aren’t actually there (saying things like “the filmmakers lied to her!” but never once does the article say what the filmmakers told her or didn’t tell her, etc.). I think that was the intention though so good job on the part of the PR dept. here at Micechat.

      • The First Star

        That’s correct. I posted the link on the first page and on page 2, I think. I feel like I’d be spamming if I keep posting it. The filmmaker released a statement through CNN in October, in which she said that the whole crew were profoundly changed by the experience of making the film, and that the purpose shifted away from Dawn as they learned more and more.

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  • fnord

    Evergreen, how old are you? Sea World SA TX ain’t that
    old, but the trainers always free swam with the orcas,
    even being launched into the air by standing on their
    heads. If that isn’t free swimming with orcas, I don’t
    know what you mean. I haven’t seen the ”Shamu” show since the first
    year the park opened, because I became
    aware of the controversy even back then, before this doc
    which I haven’t seen.
    Please tell me that because they were paid to do it
    doesn’t mean you think they weren’t free swimming.
    This was way before the death in question.

    • evergreen

      “Free swimming” means swimming with the animals for fun – no show, no audience, no fish reward. Sea World’s trainers are not allowed to free swim with any animals. The trainers’ interactions with the animals are strictly limited to “work time.”

  • Skyway1

    I need to clear up a few misconceptions here.

    Regardless of what you think of “Blackfish”, the points made in the film were not just dreamed up by the director or animal activists. The film closely mirrors the same arguments and evidence presented in court by the US Department of Labor in OSHA’s case against SeaWorld.

    If you take a look at the transcripts of that lengthy trial, you’ll see that much of what is portrayed in Blackfish was addressed , and in some cases proven, in a courtroom.

    Trainers who currently work for SeaWorld testified under oath that they were unaware of certain incidents of whale aggression. SeaWorld executives were caught off guard when the government was able to show them numerous aggressive incidents that did not appear in the company’s incident log book, which trainers testified they did not routinely got to see. There is undisputed testimony from SeaWorld employees and execs that the company was not fully transparent when it came to sharing information with trainers, a concern highlighted in the film.

    I’d be interested to know if the trainer interviewed by MiceAge was ever shown the 2006 video of Ken Peters repeatedly pulled underwater. If not, why would the company not let other trainers learn from their colleague’s close call?

    At the trial, the trainer who claimed Dawn was pulled in by her ponytail admitted under oath he did not see it happen. He said he saw her pulling her hair from the whale’s mouth after the fact and assumed that’s what happened. A second employee, a security guard,, testified that he actually saw the whale pull her in by her arm. Two employees telling two different stories. SeaWorld chose one version to tell the public, which just happened to be the one that’s made it looks like it was Dawn’s mistake instead of the whale’s aggression. Only those who were there know what really happened. But the people in the film have a legitimate reason to question SeaWorld’s account.

    The government’s killer whale expert, who also appears in Blackfish, gave his professional opinion about how wild whales differ from captive ones. SeaWorld’s expert gave different opinions. So there is a legitimate dispute about such things as whether a whale has a shorter life span in captivity. None of us laypeople know the answer, and the experts can’t even agree on it. Is that not a meaningful public debate to have? And would that debate even be taking place if not for Blackfish?

    Even if the director “mislead” participants and went into the film with a strong bias in hopes of winning an Oscar, so what? Nearly EVERYTHING in the film was also part of the federal government’s court case again SeaWorld. You may not agree with the government’s position or their reasons for litigation against SeaWorld, but at least it shows the film was not just a hatchet job by a crazed activist.

    And one last misconception — CNN did not create or fund the film. Blackfish is an independent film that premiered at Sundance. CNN later purchased the distribution rights to the film. Whether a news organization should also be in the documentary distribution business is another good public debate. But Blackfish was competed long before any CNN employee ever saw it.

    • evergreen

      Thank you for your intelligent, helpful and accurate comments.

    • TodAZ1

      “Even if the director “mislead” participants and went into the film with a strong bias in hopes of winning an Oscar, so what?”

      You’re assuming the producers stopped at misleading only the participants. Who else did they mislead? The public watching this movie?

      If the case against Seaworld and orca captivity is so compelling, so true, so right to the producers of this movie, why the need to lie?

      And just because CNN didn’t originally fund this film and only has distribution rights doesn’t mean they don’t have a financial stake in its success.

  • pachyderm13

    It’s really hard for me personally ,to understand what she wants to say…The reason being is the last questions asked Q. What would do you if you were in charge of Sea World” A. “I would end animals for entertainment purposes and stop the breeding programs” OK. sounds good….Next question Q. Would you take your children to Sea World? A. “Whales were such a big part of my life,and these relationships were very important to me,that I cannot imagine not giving that to my children.So, yes,I would take them to Sea World”…..That last sentence makes me wonder about her credibility She is aware of THE COVE ,Taiji slaughter of dolphins/whales from Sept-Mar.If you know nothing about it,google it. It’s horrific .It happens daily in those months…Fisherman round them up in nets,pick out a couple for captivity and barbarically slaughter the rest,babies included.. They suffer immensely. If people keep visiting marine parks ,this will continue because of the greed and money these people make off of these beautiful animals. selling them to marine parks,etc..If someone disagrees strongly about captivity, and if they love them so dearly, then why buy a ticket for your family only to support what she says she doesn’t support? She says she wants her kids to know the same relationship as she has with whales, but it seems to me it’s a “dream” of sorts, and she doesn’t want to give that up, so she WILL take her children to see them in captivity.She’s suppose to have more expertise and experience, but that sentence does not come across as someone who fully supports what she says she does…..I truly believe that the trainers love these animals.I think Sea World has done some good as well. But I also believe the time has come, and we have learned enough to know that captivity is wrong ..I’m not saying Sea World should close down,they could still do a world of good, but it is time to stop captivity…..I just find this article lacking credibility,in my own opinion.Although many of us have a love for these creatures,I could not bring myself to bring kids,grand kids,or anyone to an establishment that I didn’t support what they were doing.That is just wrong,in my opinion.If you think it’s wrong…..don’t support it. Blackfish is but one documentary, there is so much more information of this subject out there,and it started way before Blackfish. Many people have felt captivity was wrong long ago, it’s nothing new…As far as not feeling right about this or that, there was time to say “I don’t agree with this nor that” I am not supporting this film and I want my side known” But that didn’t happen.If I truly in my heart believed it was wrong,I would have done something about it THEN,and made sure everyone knew my feelings…And I would not have stopped until my side of the story was on that movie or they took me off the movie.I,myself, did not take this documentary as an activist documentary at all. Like I said before,these are my opinions..

  • M69

    While I cannot pretend to know much about the film other than I will not see it, I appreciate MiceChat for providing a space in which another side can be seen, in part because it has not been easy to find an anti-Blackfish headline as readily as anti-Sea World headlines for some time. The trainer shares eloquently that times have changed since some of the worst offenses were made in the name of commercial edutainment, while providing the rescue efforts, partnerships with scientists, and outreach to the public – and not just the park-going public but those who do not tend to visit (like me.) I am not a fan of Sea World or Aquariums or animal parks. However, when I researched this topic after feeling emotionally manipulated by the trailer for Blackfish, I came away with a new appreciation for those who do work on behalf of animals and this planet, and that apparently means Sea World, aquariums and animal parks. !! Lastly but certainly not least: My condolences to Bridgette, her colleagues and friends, and Dawn’s family.

  • jcruise86

    It’s too bad that people saw this on TV screens rather than in theaters. The shots of orcas in the wild made the contrast with Sea World’s pools dramatic on the big screen.

    “Blackfish” received an excellent score on Metacritic.com. Click on the link below to see many reviews:

    • jcruise86
    • jcruise86

      I meant that “too bad that so many” people saw it on TVs. Of course, many of us saw it in theaters.

      I think a practical response would be for Sea World to saw that orcas will be out by 2020 and dolphins by 2030. That would give them lots of time to develop alternative attractions so tourists wouldn’t be out by 2031.

      • TodAZ1

        Very much agree with your timeline for Seaworld, jcruise. The time to end the animal shows at theme parks has come.

  • agave

    I’m glad to see many more intelligent comments posted here on this topic. A couple more thoughts I’d like to chime in on:

    A poster above says working with animals is dangerous, period. Think of lion and tiger tamers for example. Does that mean we should release all lions and tigers from captivity? My answer to that specific question is, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But the difference is, everyone KNOWS lion-tamers have dangerous, if not crazy jobs. But SeaWorld says training killer whales is different because orcas are docile, loveable giants. That is until an orca rips a human being apart, a human being they happened to have worked with closely for a long time. Then Seaworlds got some explaining to do.

    The main crux of the film Blackfish as well as the case made against SeaWorld in court, is that SeaWorld has been deliberately trying to sell the public the idea that working with and training orcas is NOT dangerous if the trainers follow the exact guidelines SeaWorld management set out. IN other words,its not like lion-taming at all. Orcas are not like lions, according to SeaWorld, orcas LIKE to be trained. Every time an orca attack occurs in one of their parks, SeaWorld trots out a carefully worded, no doubt lawyer-approved, statement blaming everyone and everything for the attack, but never acknowledging the fact that orcas can be very dangerous. It was a baby orca crying in a nearby tank that made the performing orca pull its trainer repeatedly underwater for minutes nearly drowning him in front of a horrified audience. Or it was a dangling ponytail on a trainers head that made the orca mutilate and tear her to pieces. One wonders if they have a book of prepared excuses ready for when another attack occurs.

    Through all the attacks and human deaths, SeaWorld will not ONCE admit that there may be an inherent danger in its training KILLER whales to jump through hoops and wave its tail at the audience. And its not hard to figure out why: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ The orcas are Seaworld’s cash cow, without them, they never would have built up its reputation or its fame.

    Look, I don’t believe anyone at SeaWorld, trainer or management, deliberately mistreats the orcas. In fact, they most likely love them. But you can love something and still cause it harm unintentionally. Orcas CAN be docile, even gentle with humans. But they can also be incredibly dangerous. For everyone defending SeaWorld in the above posts, answer this one basic question: even if you don’t agree with the purpose or content of Blackfish, why is it so hard for SeaWorld to just, at the very least, admit that orca training is inherently dangerous, just like lion-taming? Afterall, orcas are predators in the wild. Aren’t they nicknamed KILLER whales? Is it so surprising one will occasionally kill it’s captors?

  • rihard2000

    agave.. Do you honestly think that there are Sea World orca trainers that don’t know the animals they are working with are incredibly dangerous animals? Do you think the experts working side-by-side with these animals are so naively unaware that they need a public statement from SeaWorld to learn this?

  • fnord

    That’s it Tod, no evidence that the filmmaker’s purpose didn’t evolve
    during the process of production, so no proof that anybody lied. Well,
    no proof that either the director or the trainer lied, but Sea World
    through the years has some ‘splaining to do.

  • freeLolita

    To those who keep referring to those horrible and crazy “animal rights activists” well Ms. Pirtle is a self-proclaimed “animal rights advocate” herself according to her twitter. What’s so bad with being an activist? People are activists for many causes.

    A film about how whales and trainers get along could be expected from seaworld, not from a group of ex-trainers who openly, long before Blackfish, criticized seaworld and keeping orcas in captivity. Did she really expect for this to be a pro-seaworld film? What part of the film blames Dawn? The causal link described is that confining these animals in this way will lead to such behaviors. She implies that other trainers feel misled. One can go to youtube or various blogs and read the posts of the ex-seaworld Blackfish trainers before and after Blackfish aired. Sam Berg and Jeff Ventre have been speaking out for some time. But she wants a treadmill, she really cares about the orcas!

  • OliviaVonDrake

    This article is disgusting and embarrassing. Really shameful. What are you guys thinking?

  • fnord

    In her defense she no longer works there because
    her family or friends urged her to quit, and she
    was coerced.

  • leoart

    I’ve always thought Miceage had an agenda to promote Sea World and this “expose” just reinforces that. Just like our consciousness has been enlarged by films about elephant confinement and use in circuses, Blackfish will expose the other side to a public that long bought into SeaWorld as a “conservation” and “welfare” company. I remember going to SeaWorld when I was younger on my visits to California but long ago I stopped going as I became aware of the nature of dolphins, orcas and their capture for “entertainment.” Sea World is a corporation that uses (I’d say exploit) animals to make money. It honestly shouldn’t take a film like Blackfish to make people aware of the issues/conflict of interest that type of business has. I don’t think this film will close them down but at least it might improve the situation, and move the corporation into the right direction. One I think that will eventually lead to a different type of theme park.

  • BigD

    I hope all of you who have posted here condemning Sea World and calling for the end of their animal shows are vegetarians; otherwise, how could you live with yourselves. I find it absurd that in a nation where most of us routinely eat the flesh of animals that are raised solely to be slaughtered there are so many who claim to be horrified that a corporation keeps animals for entertainment purposes while doing everything possible to prolong the lives of those animals. As for the allegation that Sea World is responsible for the deaths of trainers and is guilty of lying about the circumstances of those deaths, a bit of perspective is called for. First, no one could possibly have gone into the job of training those animals without knowing he or she would be in danger. People take on dangerous jobs all the time, and accidents happen; I have worked in situations I knew to be dangerous, and countless other people do so every day. Second, while I do not condone any lies on the part of Sea World, it is certainly understandable why they would have wanted to minimize the fault of the animal. Their behavior was wrong, but it hardly makes them monsters. I have been to Sea World in the past, and I would gladly go again in the future. Until I am ready to go vegan and eschew my leather shoes, belt, and jacket, I would be a craven hypocrite to argue that Sea World should stop what it is doing.

    • OliviaVonDrake

      This argument is totally absurd.
      The difference between farming domesticated animals for food and clothing and breeding WILD animals in captivity for entertainment is huge. There is a REASON circuses and other animal shows have steeply fallen out of popularity.
      The entire reason people go to Sea World is to see the novelty of huge wild animals being made to do tricks for food. It’s perverse and deep down people know it.

      • BigD

        Of course people go to sea World “to see the novelty of huge wild animals being made to do tricks for food,” which is certainly much kinder to the animals than putting a steel bolt through their heads, butchering them, and then eating them. What is absurd is people who are willing to participate in the slaughter of animals (and if you eat them you are a participant) acting shocked and outraged that others might enjoy the spectacle of animals that are kept in fairly benign conditions being used for entertainment.

    • evergreen

      So if you are a meat-eater, then animal abuse is fine? Only vegans can speak out againt animal abuse? Absurd!

      • BigD

        You are putting words in my mouth. My point is that humans continually make trade offs between their own interests and those of animals. Sea World and those who attend its shows make a trade off that satisfies human desires for entertainment and profit while benefiting marine animals through research and conservation efforts. Everyone who eats meat makes a trade off that is much more heavily tilted in favor of humans. I do not see any reason to classify either as abuse, but if one were to classify the former as such it is absurd not to so classify the latter.

        If you can live with the tradeoff needed to justify eating meat, that is your prerogative; I know I can. However, what I am saying is that the same consideration should be given to those of us who feel parks like Sea World can be justified as a legitimate trade off. I am not making the claim that “Only vegans can speak out againt animal abuse,” but I am making the claim that no one who is willing to use (not abuse) animals for his or her own interests should attempt to deny others that same right.

      • agave

        BigD, everyone NEEDS to eat, but NO ONE NEEDS to see an Orca jump through a hoop. There is a moral difference between using animals for food and between using them as circus animals.

        I should add however, that human farming and domestication has reached horrific proportions and there are numerous animal abuses carried in the name of feeding populations. There are a great number of docs and books on this subject. Awareness is rising on that front as well. Nevertheless, at the very least, farming has an underlying human need at its primary purpose. Not the same with orcas performing circus tricks. You can get your entertainment from somewhere else BigD, you don’t need to see the orca show. You won’t be missing much. May I suggest watching monkeys juggle knives and flaming bottles?

        Also, you never addressed what is my biggest beef with SeaWorld, the cover up and misleading of the public in the wake of human deaths. If a whale snaps, as has happened countless times, there is practically nothing to stop it. The trainers are at the mercy of whales. Is this all worth it?

      • rihard2000

        Yes everyone needs to eat, but humans don’t need to eat meat. Vegans have proven there is a viable healthy alternative. The human that chooses to eat meat is making the same personal interest choice that a person going to SeaWorld to makes.

      • BigD

        Agave, while everyone needs to eat, no one needs to eat meat. As rihard2000 points out in his post, that has been proven by vegans. As for your claim that “There is a moral difference between using animals for food and between using them as circus animals” since “farming has an underlying human need at its primary purpose,” I believe you are drawing a distinction that does not exist. Eating meat, as noted above, is not a necessity, but eating is. While entertainment may not be a human need on the same level as eating, the fact that various forms of entertainment are almost universally found in cultures widely separated in space and time tells me they strongly contribute to human welfare and happiness. Not necessarily watching whales, but some form of entertainment. So both cases, eating and entertainment, represent activities that meet strong human needs and/or desires, and in both cases some humans choose to use animals to meet these needs and/or desires. Effectively, there is no difference. If anyone chooses not to use animals for entertainment, or certain types of animals, that is his or her right and I respect it. But unless such a person is willing to take the moral stand that all human exploitation of animals is wrong and should be stopped, he or she should respect my choices and those of others like me by not attempting to end the use of animals for entertainment. To do otherwise would expose such an individual as a hypocrite and destroy his or her credibility.

        You also claim that I never addressed your concerns with Sea World’s “cover up and misleading of the public in the wake of human deaths.” If you look at my original post you will see that I did. I believe Sea World was wrong and should be held accountable for past actions, but that has no real bearing on the future. Working with whales is an inherently dangerous job, but as long as future performers take on the job with full knowledge of the history behind it, that is an issue for those individuals to decide for themselves. Would you likewise attempt to regulate NASCAR drivers, to use but one example among many, out of their chosen profession simply because the job they choose is dangerous?

  • Disneylandguest

    “This is an immediate example of how something was included to sensationalize and exploit what happened when we knew for a fact this was not true.”

    Funny how “sensationalize” was brought up here. Miceage is no stranger to that. Miceage loves to sensationalize everything in all of their articles. The very title of this article is trying to sensationalize things.

    (Also, I love the fact that Dustysage is ignoring all of the replies that question him with logic.)
    Dustysage (and Miceage) apparently loves SeaWorld and is ready to jump to their defense, and yet tears Disney apart with no mercy.

    You’re telling me, that with a title like “Blackfish Exposed” Micechat does not have an agenda?

    I’ve seen Blackfish. The film does NOT blame Dawn for anything. Most documentaries can be considered “one-sided.”

    Regardless, wild animals (like Orcas) should NOT be forced to do silly tricks for people’s amusement.

  • solarnole

    “Whale of a business” by Frontline came out in 1997 and is still more relevant and factual then Blackfish. I don’t support whales in small tanks but sadly I doubt that they would survive if they were released back into the wild. I think Sea World should make the shows realistic let the whales eat meat off hooks National Geographic style.

    I thought Blackfish was bias for only attacking Seaworld. Miami Seaquarium treats it one killer whale much worse then Sea World. Its been there 40 years and its tail touches the bottom of the tank.

    Disney is also a part of the animal trading program with Living Seas and Animal Kingdom and has animals caught from the wild in its collections. I find the political pressure on the bands ironic they can play at Epcot which has dolphins caught from the wild but not at Sea World. Whats the difference?

    • evergreen

      The Miami Seaquarium’s orca tank is in violation of Federal regulations since it is too small. The government bows to the wishes of the marine theme park industry and refuses to enforce its own Federal regulations. Lolita’s situation is dire.

      • solarnole

        Exactly and Blackfish had no mention of it at all. The other thing that I was surprised that they skipped over was that Southwest was holding a party at the park with their CEO the day the attack happened. The Whale was posing for pictures with people before he attacked her. I think they pushed him harder that day because Southwest is such an important partner to Seaworld

  • agave

    Rihard2000 said:

    “agave.. Do you honestly think that there are Sea World orca trainers that don’t know the animals they are working with are incredibly dangerous animals? Do you think the experts working side-by-side with these animals are so naively unaware that they need a public statement from SeaWorld to learn this?”

    No, I don’t think the trainers working with the whales need a statement from SeaWorld telling them the orcas they are working with are dangerous, but I DO think the trainers deserve to hear about it when another trainer is attacked by a whale in the very same tank they are working in or even by the very same whale they are now being asked to train. If you had watched Blackfish you would have known that SeaWorld trainers testified in court that they never even heard of numerous attacks on trainers by the very same whales that they were being asked to train.

    And I also believe that when an attack occurs SeaWorld should not attempt to make the public believe that the incident is NOT part of a pattern, when it clearly is. They like to make it sound like it was an anomaly, a stray event with extenuating circumstances, every time. And we never hear from them that its possible the whales may be acting out of unhappiness, or because they are disturbed, even though the whales routinely harm each other and as we have seen, even attacked or killed the humans who care for them. Why is it so hard for the SeaWorld defenders to admit that the whales’ dark behavior may be as a result of their unhappiness? Do you enjoy watching them jump and splash around in the tank that much that you are willing to overlook and explain away the deaths of human beings and the obvious misery of the whales forced to perform? Is this all worth it?

    • rihard2000

      I assume you’re talking about Samantha Berg’s Blackfish claim that she wasn’t told about the 1987 incident involving John Sillick until her sixth month of employment at SeaWorld. The truth is, she wasn’t told about it because she wasn’t even working at SeaWorld when the incident happened (this important detail is never mentioned in Blackfish). At the time she learned about that incident (her sixth month of working for SeaWorld) she was not even working with orcas! Samantha Berg was employed with dolphins and beluga whales in an completely different area of the park than the orca show at that time! Why would she need to know about the dangerous orca incident if she was in no way involved with orcas?

      The film also doesn’t mention that Samantha Berg was in eventually made aware of the episode once working with orcas became a part of her job (a full year after the start of her employment). Blackfish is too busy manipulating the viewer’s thoughts and emotions by withholding all the facts.

      “Why is it so hard for the SeaWorld defenders to admit that the whales’ dark behavior may be as a result of their unhappiness” you ask. Because your so called “dark behavior” isn’t a result of them being unhappy, but rather their dangerous wild animal nature. That’s why.

      Yes I enjoy being entertained by them and learning from them. Yes, I’m cool knowing the trainers accept the risk they are getting into for the benefit of human caring.

  • agave

    To back up what Disneylandguest said above, I’m calling out Micechat hard on this one. BOO! BOO to the tone and style of this article. BOO to defending the article as “just presenting another point of view.” Do you think we are that dumb Dusty, that we can’t see through that rickety logic?

    What makes all of this so horrifying to me, is that Micechat shreds Disney for pulling stunts like calling a ride closure a refurb when it’s clearly not, or ridicules Disney when it slashes a parks budget. The events discussed in Blackfish and this article involve human DEATHS; not whether or not a ride will cost 100 million or 50 million to construct. Where is the outrage from Micechat over a themepark covering up the causes of human deaths? How will you feel when this happens again and another life is lost to the jaws of a disturbed animal?

    What SeaWorld management has done is not only immoral its criminal. Placing its trainers in harms way repeatedly and pretending there’s no real underlying danger here. They had to be ordered by the court to separate the trainers from the whales, and they are appealing that decision! Not to mention the great harm caused to the whales themselves. This is not the level of reporting I expect from Micechat. Al, say or do something please. This IS A BIG DEAL.

  • coldchillen

    Why is this feature even on this website?

  • jcruise86

    The whole world is allowed on Micechat. Theme parks are often just the starting point for discussions of capitalism, art, responsibility and freedom.

  • Sir_Cliff

    Just wanted to say that I, like many others, was disturbed to see this article on Micechat and then see so many people take the very flimsy excuse offered up on a platter to line up and immediately support Sea World over those raising concerns about animal welfare. As many have said, whatever the truth is regarding the film, there is a whole lot of nothing in the interview itself. It is heavily implied that Pirtle was lied to, but never really explained how she was lied to. Indeed, when you read her conclusion it becomes very hard to understand what the point of it all is.

    I felt quite uncomfortable to think I had spent so many years reading a site that took a critical view of how Disney was running its parks simply, as it turns out, from the perspective of the demanding consumer who wanted more for their money. Then many of the readers seemed to fall into line, happily to take the slightest opportunity to brush aside questions of cruelty to animals to avoid having to question whether something they enjoy is really ethical or not. It all reeked of self-centred, amoral consumerism.

    Thank god the conversation has become more intelligent and insightful as it has gone on.

  • evergreen

    I am a former trainer. My response to this outrageous article is here:

    I tell all.

  • fnord

    Well said, sir cliff,
    but I would hope that the overriding purpose of this
    site is to celebrate the genius of Mr. Disney and his
    creation of the park that sparked the creation of a
    whole new genre of entertainment, the at least once
    amazing Disneyland. But to this day, none of the
    other parks, Disney or otherwise, has captured the
    same spark, in my opinion. That’s genius.
    We must excuse younger folk who never really
    experienced how amazing it once was.

  • fnord

    followed your link, nicely said. Very few zoos force
    their animals to perform anymore, and it seems
    there’s good reason for that.
    Going back over the responses, we haven’t heard
    from those responsible for this article for over 2
    Getting over 160 responses to an article non Disney
    related shows there’s some hope for the integrity
    of this group after all.
    Also, Wizarding World rocks! Can’t wait to see phase

  • fnord

    I would discourage nascar drivers because of the
    massive waste of natural resources that can’t be
    replaced. Fuel, tires, etc.

    • BigD

      That might be a reasonable reason, although it is unrelated to the question of whether Sea World should not do its shows because of the danger to trainers. However, considering how much driving most people do that is nonessential, it is hard to see NASCAR as a real problem.

  • DisneyPhreak

    Thank you evergreen. I followed your link and I encourage others to do so. Why haven’t we heard again from DustySage? I am heartened to see that the commentary has evolved into something more than following into lockstep to defend Sea World. All documentaries have a viewpoint so the outrage over it being one sided is overblown. When I watched it I remember the first hour being primarily about the plight of the confined whales and the second about the tragic deaths of the “trainers” and the “cover up” (for lack of a better term) by Sea World. The footage of the trainer being dragged repeatedly to the bottom of the pool by the whale was horrific. The purpose of Blackfish was to bring attention to the plight of these imprisoned animals. Mission accomplished. I only hope it helps to ultimately end using these intelligent animals for entertainment.

  • Qnity

    Throughout the entire Blackfish controversy, I have remained somewhat confused as to how the animal captivity argument has been limited to Sea World’s treatment of orcas. I can’t imagine that monkey enclosures or elephant paddocks offer the same independence or stimulation as that found in the wild. I have seen such animals pace back and forth relentlessly in their enclosures for hours — outward indications of psychiatric deterioration.

    Again, the point of discussion I bring up concerns the space issue only and not the tricks that the orcas are forced to do and subsequent relationships with their trainers. I feel that targeting Sea World only for their enclosure of the orcas ignores the larger issue of animal captivity in general.

  • agave

    Rihard, I’m not interested in getting into a tit for tat with you, so’ I’ll just say you should read Evergreen’s post and respond with your thoughts there. Let’s see what Evergreen says in response to you, since Evergreen actually WAS a trainer and worked with orcas for SeaWorld.

    I’ll just add that if you were paying attention you would have seen that in court NUMEROUS trainers and management at SeaWorld admitted to not knowing about specific incidents of whale attacks on trainers, by the very same whales they were working with. In other words, they only learned of these incidents in court, on the stand. And although YOU may be “cool” with SeaWorld’s shows and practices, more and more former trainers are NOT cool with it after what they have experienced working there. And what exactly makes you so qualified to think that the whales are cool with it?

    There are 0 incidents of orcas attacking humans in the wild. 0. Animals in general do not hunt for fun, but for food or to protect themselves. Tillikum did not EAT Dawn. He simply tore her apart, even after she did everything SeaWorld trained her to do. And how exactly is it “natural behavior” for a whale to strip a dead mans clothes off, bite off his genitals and wear the dead body draped on his back? How can you claim the whales are behaving naturally in these incidents, when they are living in totally UNNNATURAL environments for them?

    Please, go read Evergreen’s post. After your last post, you really need to.

    • rihard2000

      I think the assessment that “whales in the wild don’t attack humans” is skewed because whales in the wild are not face to face with humans caring for them on a daily basis. Of course that’s going to make the chance of a whale attack on a human less likely. As for how Tilly has treated bodies in the water with him, orcas play with seals and naturally treat them like toys in the wild. A body in the exhibit space isn’t going to be treated any differently. That the tank invading human wasn’t eaten can probably be attributed to the animal already being well feed.

      Yeah, I’ve read Evergreen’s post and disagree with various things that she has said. I haven’t commented on it because I appreciate her stating her thoughts and respect what her opinion is, since she worked so closely with SeaWorld’s ocras.

      I currently work side by side with a few former SeaWorld of Ohio trainers and currently have friends working in animal care for SeaWorld San Diego and Sea World Orlando. They have vastly different stories of their own. Heck, just this weekend Dawn Brancheau’s own family went to Sea World to show their support of the company her daughter loved and the work she was proud of.

      So just because there are some trainers speaking out against Sea World, there are also many very supportive trainers that aren’t speaking up. Evergreen was hesitant post, so imagine how hesitant a SeaWorld supporting trainer would be speaking up in within the vitriol bullying online anti-cap climate. One former co-worker of mine who wrote about his experience received many angry hateful emails directed toward him with name calling, threats and a few even commenting on his family. It’s no wonder there aren’t more speaking up.

      I am not a qualified animal behaviorist (nor are the hundreds of people who have watched the biased and at times highly-misleading Blackfish that think they’re qualified to speak out against it), but I have worked as an animal educator for two AZA accredited zoos since 2006.

  • agave


    Please go read Evergreen’s thread and post your thoughts there. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to say. In the meantime, in response to this idea that you posted:

    “But unless such a person is willing to take the moral stand that all human exploitation of animals is wrong and should be stopped, he or she should respect my choices and those of others like me by not attempting to end the use of animals for entertainment.”

    So if I enjoy eating chicken I have no moral standing to object to a person burning kittens for fun? Or if a woman eats steak, she must not object to another person who enjoys starving his pet dogs because he likes how shrunken they look when they’re dying?

    The line must be drawn somewhere. Only disturbed people would argue otherwise. And you don’t seem like a disturbed individual.

    I can’t think of a nation on earth that describes an individual’s right to treat animals as play things. That’s because it isn’t a right. Not that I’ve ever been told. We actually HAVE LAWS forbidding the mistreatment of animals. It might seem odd on paper that certain animals are exploited as food, but others are cared for as companionable creatures with rights. But only a whacko would say that harming dogs and cats for fun is A-OK. Perhaps a film like blackfish urges us to expand our awareness to include orcas in that catergory. They are after all, intelligent, emotional creatures, with brains that are surprisingly similar to our own.

    Either way, your comment turning the idea of exploiting animals into a black and white matter is oversimplified and unfounded. And silly when you take the time to think about it.

    Unless you’d care to defend a person’s right to harm animals for entertainment?

    • BigD

      First of all, I find your sarcasm repugnant in a serious discussion like this. Beyond that, the problem here is that you refer to examples of obvious abuse, such as burning kittens, when the discussion is about what is happening at Sea World. My point is that the shows at Sea World are not abuse and do not even rise to the level of harm found in other accepted activities such as raising animals for food. In fact, contrary to what you say, most human societies do condone the use of animals as playthings—horses that are kept to be ridden would be just one example among many. So claiming that Sea World abuses animals by using them as playthings is ludicrous unless you are also claiming that all such uses of animals are abuse. If that was your claim, it would make sense. All I am trying to point out is that there should be some degree of consistency in the positions taken by those who oppose what Sea World does; otherwise those positions lack any credibility. Given that human use of animals for entertainment and in other activities is accepted, and short of a consistent position on your part opposing all such uses, the only real issue is whether the way Sea World treats its animals is outside the accepted norm for animal treatment in our society. It is in fact you who is trying to make this a black and white issue by claiming Sea World’s actions are abusive without considering them within the entire range of human interactions with animals. When considered in that way, they are neither an example of the best nor the worst case of human-animal interaction, but rather fall somewhere within the accepted range. Hence what I have said from the start: unless you are willing to condemn and call for the end of similar or worse treatment of animals, treatment you are a participant in if you are not a vegetarian, your stance lacks credibility at best and is hypocritical at worst.

    • BigD

      First of all, I find your sarcasm repugnant in a serious discussion like this. Beyond that, the problem here is that you refer to examples of obvious abuse, such as burning kittens, when the discussion is about what is happening at Sea World. My point is that the shows at Sea World are not abuse and do not even rise to the level of harm found in other accepted activities such as raising animals for food. In fact, contrary to what you say, most human societies do condone the use of animals as playthings—horses that are kept to be ridden would be just one example among many. So claiming that Sea World abuses animals by using them as playthings is ludicrous unless you are also claiming that all such uses of animals are abuse. If that was your claim, it would make sense. All I am trying to point out is that there should be some degree of consistency in the positions taken by those who oppose what Sea World does; otherwise those positions lack any credibility. Given that human use of animals for entertainment and in other activities is accepted, and short of a consistent position on your part opposing all such uses, the only real issue is whether the way Sea World treats its animals is outside the accepted norm for animal treatment in our society. It is in fact you who are trying to make this a black and white issue by claiming Sea World’s actions are abusive without considering them within the entire range of human interactions with animals. When considered in that way, they are neither an example of the best nor the worst case of human-animal interaction, but rather fall somewhere within the accepted range. Hence what I have said from the start: unless you are willing to condemn and call for the end of similar or worse treatment of animals, treatment you are a participant in if you are not a vegetarian, your stance lacks credibility at best and is hypocritical at worst.

      • BigD

        I apologize for the double posting.

    • rihard2000

      Wow! This is what your comments have degraded to? I’m sorry for even dignifying your posts with replies and an attempt at adult discussion. I’m done paying your thoughts anymore of my time and BigD, you should probably do the same. Cheers.

      • agave

        Wow. Degraded to? What did I say that was so insulting? I was using hyperbole with the whole burning kittens analogy in answer to BigD’s blanket statement that unless someone’s a vegan, their objections to Seaworlds treatment of the whales is hypocritical. I never said or accused anyone here of being inhumane. So my thoughts are not even worth dignifying because you don’t like my tone? What about the thoughts themselves? Can you overlook my “repugnant” attitude and answer my points? Haven’t I followed the forum rules? I don’t get it?

  • agave


    That’s not what you said. Again a direct quote, my emphasis added:

    “But unless such a person is willing to take the moral stand THAT ALL human exploitation of animals is wrong and should be stopped, he or she should respect my choices and those of others like me by not attempting to end the use of animals for entertainment.”

    My point is, it’s already societally unacceptable to treat animals inhumanely for entertainment purposes, hence the laws banning dog fighting, or even cockfighting, And what makes you so sure what’s happening to the orcas is not mistreatment? Just because what’s happening to the orcas isn’t EXACTLY the same as dog fighting doesn’t morally put us all in the clear for viewing it with glee. Especially if the whales are genuinely unhappy with their situation; unhappy to the point of acting out in horribly destructive ways. People have died after all.

    Again, READ Evergreen’s thread on how the orcas are treated at Seaworld. Thoughtful stuff.

    And I’m sorry you find our objection to the orcas treatment inconsistent unless we are vegans. So does that mean you WILL take seriously the objections of those here who ARE vegetarians and vegans? Would any of you care to step forward and explain the exact same points the rest of us had to BigD but maybe he will take your position more seriously since you are vegetarian?

    I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, BigD, I enjoy debating with you, but your line of reasoning here is weak. Let me try a different line of reasoning that removes eating and using animals for food from the equation all together and erases (in my mind) the confusion of comparing orcas to horses, cats and dogs as we have both done above:

    It is ILLEGAL to hunt orcas for food or kill them for fun in most places on this planet. So why should it be legal to imprison them and force them to perform tricks for food? Especially when human blood has been spilled in the process? Again, I ask, is this all worth it?

    • BigD

      It is obvious that neither of us is going to change his mind. You think my line of reasoning is weak, and I think yours is weak. To answer your question, I would view the objection of a vegan as a more logically consistent position. Nevertheless, I would still disagree with such a person’s claim that there is anything abusive about keeping orcas in captivity as Sea World does. Leaving aside everything said before, as you suggest, I see your last argument as no stronger than your others. The fact that hunting orcas is illegal has nothing to do with keeping them in captivity. Hunting animals is much worse than keeping them in captivity, so it really has no bearing.

      All that said, I too have enjoyed the debate, but I feel I must make this my last comment. As I said before, neither of us will change, and I have other interests from which this has taken too much time. Best wishes.

  • agave

    Lastly, I’d just like to add that I do genuinely apologize if I offended BigD or Rihard above. I never meant to. And I re-read my post to try and understand why what I said was not worthy of being considered a part of an “adult discussion.” I stand by my points. But I seriously DO respect both of your intellects and points of view. I just want you both to walk away with something meaningful to think about. I’m genuinely sorry if my approach was distasteful to you. This topic is too important to me to devolve into pettiness and bickering.

    Off-topic, I know. Back on topic.

    • rihard2000

      I’m sorry. I went back and re-read too and realize I misread “and you don’t seem like a disturbed individual.” as “and you seem like a disturbed individual”. I apologize for mistaking what I thought I read as name calling.

      I recognize the importance of the topic to you, and it is important to me too. However I also recognize that we both have our minds made up on our stance. We’re not going to change our opinions. So with that in mind and since I’ve already spent too much time here when I still have 5 Christmas trees to take down, I have to respectfully drop from the conversation. 🙂

  • fnord

    I’m a vegan, but that has nothing to do with my
    opinion on this issue of whales and dolphins being
    imprisoned and forced to do stupid tricks that put
    underpaid ,undereducated humans in risk of their
    lives. I’ve been vegan for over 4 years, but have had
    this opinion for over 20 years, after I first visited my local
    Sea World of Texas, and did some research.

    Big D, it’s not your place to insist what other people are
    allowed to believe, vegan or no. And ps, I hope there are
    happier reasons you’re called big d than simply being a Texan.

  • BigD

    fnord, as I said to agave, I am going to have to leave this discussion. However, before I do I feel I must correct your assertion that I am trying to “insist what other people are
    allowed to believe.” Everyone has the right to believe whatever he or she wishes, and neither I nor anyone else can or should attempt to deny anyone that right. All I was attempting to point out is the inconsistency of the position held by many on this issue in regards to their position on related issues. That said, I wish you the best.

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  • Toolshed

    This is in my opinion the first article I have seen on this subject with honest intentions and the Animals well being put before all personal agendas. Bravo Ms. Pirtle… Does anybody even know who all the people are in the photos? Why is the OSHA investigator part of the “Blackfish Crew”?

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