If you haven’t already seen, you must watch Blackfish. It’s a documentary about orcas in captivity – in particular follows the story of one orca, Tilikum – and exposes the adverse impacts of killer whales (i.e orcas) in captivity.
The documentary adds an emotional anchor to keep the audience engaged as it tells how Tilikum was captured, torn away from his family at the tender age of 2 years (orcas have a similar life span to us), and ended up in Sea World. It is a heartbreaking story of his life as an unwilling performer at Sea World for over 25 years. Before Sea World, Tilikum spent some years during the 80s & early 90s at ‘Sealand’ which has since been shut down.
It highlights that the orca entertainment industry is destructive, not only to orcas but also to humans, by presenting 3 deaths of trainers, a near death experience and multiple unpublished incidents.
Following the OH&S legal trial in 2012, Sea World is no longer allowed to undertake interactive shows with orcas. This is good for the safety of the humans, but what about the orcas?
Orcas are mammals who have great intellectual capabilities. They have the biological capacity to have a sense of self. They are very close knit to their families. What must Tilikum’s life been like? In a concrete tank, completely isolated from his family, no (or minimal) enrichment, and ‘forced’ to turn tricks to survive. Just imagine…
Without any graphic footage, the movie Blackfish still pulls at your heartstrings.
On Friday 6th January 2017, at the age of 36 years and after spending 33 years of his life in captivity, Tilikum has died.
Rest in Peace at last.