SeaWorld publicly responds to ‘Blackfish’ concerns with open letter from animal advocates to “set the record straight”

in SeaWorld Orlando, Theme Parks


Following weeks of backlash toward SeaWorld surrounding the repeated airing of CNN documentary “Blackfish,” the theme park company has responded publicly in an effort to clear up a few facts they say are inaccurate in the film. They opted not to include their side of the story in the film itself, a move which allowed filmmakers to present just their side story about horrors involving the capture and housing of killer whales. The result has been many verbal attacks on SeaWorld by animal rights advocates, including successfully encouraging many bands to cancel upcoming Bands, Brew & BBQ event concerts in the Orlando park.

SeaWorld seemed content with staying relatively silent on the issue – until today. In an open letter on their website, as well as in ads run in the Orlando Sentinel, USA Today, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, the company lists a few “important facts” that directly contradict the atrocities seen in “Blackfish” while emphasizing the greater good SeaWorld provides for many animals on a daily basis:

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.


    1. Bobafet

      I agree some facts presented in blackfish may be exagerated or no longer practiced by sea world but they once were and there is no denying that. Now they claim to only capture/rescue dying or injured whales. Also it baffles me how sea world can blame trainers for death or injuries when it’s a fact that orca whales are more aggressive in captivity not to mention a gene pool from a whale which has had aggressive behavior in past. Orcas are highly intelligent creatures as are dolphins and other sea mammals some comparable to even you or me. If it were me and I was in jail for a crime I didn’t commit I wouldn’t want to perform tricks for food and I would try to escape/get revenge at all costs. Sea world does donate millions to protected wild whales, sea life,etc… Maybe they should donate some more to protect they’re trainers! I think being a trainer at sea world should be top 10 dangerous jobs!

      1. Alby

        “Some comparable to you or me” ? Speak for yourself, I am smarter than a whale and/or dolphin.

        1. cc

          WRONG. You are NOT smarter than an orca. They have an extra part to their brain that humans don’t have which gives them a sense of self which we can never fathom to imagine or comprehend. How would you feel with your child taken away from you at 4 years of age? How would you feel if you were confined to just 1 room in your house and were never allowed to leave? CRUELTY TO ANIMALS MUST END. They shouldn’t be kept as pets or to participate in shows for your enjoyment. If you want to see and enjoy them GO OUTSIDE! Watch them perform their normal behaviours from a place where you don’t interfere with them or harm them. Who are you to judge? Anyone who supports places like SeaWorld are animal haters.

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    4. Ashlyn B

      I may only be 14 but I know what bad people out there do but seaworld trainers and faculty aren’t bad. The take in injured animals that cannot survive on their own. So stop hating on Seaworld and start hating on the real people that are hurting the animals like the places all over the world that say COME SWIM WITH DOLPHINS!! Because those are the people that are taking healthy dolphins out of the water and into a habit that they don’t like. And for the ones that don’t get picked they get stabbed by poachers. So if you want things to change in our world today you will stop hating on seaworld and start changing the real problem with other places. Come together as one and help save the dolphins but remember seaworld helps them and rescues them so they can still live and have a very happy life. What I think is if you all really and truly cared about the animals then you wouldn’t be protesting at seaworld you would be gathering information and true facts so you could save dolphins lives where they are actually needed.

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    8. me

      put the killer whales back in the ocean

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