The Wildlife Captivity Debate

Blackfish follows the story of Tilikum a SeaWorld orca, and portrays the impact of captivity on wild animals. Since Tilikum has been in captivity, he has been involved in three deaths. The most recent occurence was the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld. Tilikum held the pony tail of the trainer and pulled her down under water until she drown.

The documentary focuses on the impact captivity had on Tilikum’s aggression and the likelihood that Tilikum would not have been as violent if left in the wild. Blackfish displays the story of Tilikum’s life in captivity, which allegedly involved serious harassment at SeaLand of the Pacific. Blackfish disputes SeaWorld’s claims that orca’s live a longer life while in captivity. the documentary emphasizes that it is often the opposite, and orca’s quality of living is much more fulfilling and healthier in the wild.

After watching Blackfish I felt extremely terse about the situation and felt that the captivation of wild life was a heinous activity. However, understanding that film can drastically influence one’s perspective I tried to research into the reasons to why captivation is still an ongoing activity. The argument for the continuing captivity of wildlife claims that it provides protection from predators, medical care and assumed joy for humans and animals. The opposing debate emphasizes that animals are meant to be in the wild and taking them from their habitats creates aggression and shortens their lifespan in comparison to their wildlife counter-parts. This debate however disputes the livelihood of creatures that cannot represent themselves therefore the controversy around the subject is sensitive.

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