We’ve already heard about Blackfish’s impact on pop culture, with Pixar revising the plot of its Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory, in response to the documentary. Now a minor news item about SeaWorld’s research into “treadmills” for its orcas has me wondering if this too is an effect of the film, which negatively shines light on the theme park chain’s care of the captive animals. According to the site MiceChat, SeaWorld has conducted feasibility studies with KSB Pumps for development of a flow channel device, being called a “killer whale treadmill” (see photo), which would simulate long-distance swimming for speeds up to 30mph.
That sounds good for providing exercise for main Blackfish subject Tilikum and the rest, but whether or not this idea was inspired by the bad publicity from the film, it doesn’t sound like enough. Especially given how smart orcas are. Not that I think SeaWorld is trying to fool them, but having seen the doc, I don’t know that a lack of exercise is exactly the problem for the animals. I guess we’ll see. This could just be the first step toward improvement.
As for any official link between improvements and the influence of Blackfish, I don’t expect to see any such acknowledgment, like how McDonald’s refused to recognize Super Size Me as having anything to do with them phasing out their super size items.