Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish, one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year, will have its television debut on CNN Thursday night. And in anticipation of the continued backlash and negative publicity it promises them, SeaWorld is offering more defenses against the film. Specifically the spin comes from VP of Communications Fred Jacobs, who provided CNN with answers to questions they had following the company’s earlier statement in July.
Some of the things he points out include SeaWorld’s rescue and rehabilitation efforts, the confirmation that there are no plans to return trainers to the water for performances, an update on Tilikum and the claim that the parks are experiencing near-record attendance this year in spite of the documentary. He also gave a defense of the benefits of orcas living in captivity:
The primary benefits are identical for any species in any accredited zoological institution: education and science. At SeaWorld more than 11 million people each year (hundreds of millions since our first park opened its gates in 1964) have experienced killer whales in a way that is personal, enriching and inspirational…It is our hope that every person who has visited SeaWorld leaves with a greater understanding of and appreciation for all the animals we display, including killer whales…Much of what is known about the killer whale’s anatomy, reproductive biology and capacity to learn was learned at SeaWorld and other accredited zoological institutions.
Well that’s great, I guess, that we know more about orca reproduction, but do those other “accredited zoological institutions” do this already without having to use the animals as entertainers? Also, I’m not sure if he’s saying that the 11 million people each year who experience these performances are for scientific purpose. It seems like that’s his point, but I don’t know if that makes sense.
Check out the rest of his answers at CNN.com and watch the film this Thursday on the cable channel.