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Bindi Irwin's SeaWorld support is right: Why ‘Blackfish’ is wrong and dangerous

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Bindi Irwin’s SeaWorld support has come under fire in lieu of “Blackfish,” but the daughter of the late Steve Irwin is right as many people who have actually worked with killer whales at SeaWorld will attest to. When Bindi Irwin announced that she is pairing with SeaWorld for "Generation Nature," fans of Steve Irwin’s daughter got “extremely angry that Bindi Irwin would team up with the amusement park,” reported Fox News on March 9, 2014.

"I am so thrilled to announce I will be joining SeaWorld on a brand new initiative called 'Generation Nature,' which is all about encouraging kids to get involved and be game-changers for wildlife and wild places.”

In addition to Bindi Irwin’s fans, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is also unhappy with the 15-year-old girl’s announcement on “Good Morning America” and issued a statement.

“The Irwin family has been exploiting animals for years, so it comes as no surprise that Bindi has agreed to become SeaWorld’s latest shill. But plastering her face on SeaWorld’s website won’t cover up the fact that orcas, dolphins, and other animals are suffering in SeaWorld’s tiny tanks after being ripped from their families. What millions have realized—through PETA’s massive campaign and the hit documentary Blackfish—is that SeaWorld is no place for anyone who truly cares about animals. Bindi’s talk-show appearances are just a flimsy last-ditch effort by an abusement park hoping to make a buck.”

Ironically, right under PETA’s statement, there is a “Donate” button.

Even more ironic is that PETA writes about “the fact that orcas, dolphins, and other animals are suffering in SeaWorld’s tiny tanks after being ripped from their families.”

What information is PETA claiming its “fact” on?

If the fact is based on “Blackfish,” – the documentary that revealed the horrifying conditions Orcas live in at parks like SeaWorld – readers might recall that the documentary premiered at Sundance in 2013 and that it was streamed by CNN.

Sundance describes its mission with the following words:

"Since 1981, Sundance Institute has evolved to become an internationally-recognized nonprofit organization that actively advances the work of risk-taking storytellers worldwide.”

Why Bindi Irwin's support of SeaWorld is right and "Blackfish" is wrong and dangerous.

In its “risk-taking” storytelling, “Blackfish” has provided valuable information about killer whales, but – unfortunately – it is not telling the entire story which will eventually endanger more killer whales.

After having worked at SeaWorld for several years and after having spent hours after hours near killer whales, dolphins, and other SeaWorld animals, there is another side to the story and a few facts that “Blackfish” missed.

  • Animals in a controlled environment (captivity) do not procreate if the conditions and environment are not right for the animal. For many years, SeaWorld killer whales (when they were in fact kept in smaller tanks), did not have newborns Today, each new addition to the killer whale family at SeaWorld is clearly giving the message – we must be doing something right.
  • If, as PETA argues, the animals at SeaWorld were suffering, the animals would – as many pet owners know -- likely become aggressive, die or become sick. While there are always exceptions to the rule, SeaWorld animals generally are not aggressive, sick, or die any more than other animals that are kept in zoos worldwide. Zoos, as well as SeaWorld, must be doing something right if large animals like elephants or killer whales survive in the controlled environment.
  • In regard to Tilikum and the death of Dawn Brancheau, the Orlando Sentinel reported the following: “The family of Dawn Brancheau, the veteran SeaWorld Orlando trainer who was killed by one of the park's killer whales in February 2010, has publicly chastised ‘Blackfish,’ the controversial documentary that scrutinizes both the tragedy and the practice of holding killer whales in captivity.”
  • SeaWorld is the most interesting when there are no visitors. Since killer whales and dolphins are extremely social and playful, watching them interact with you is priceless and does not at all paint a picture of the animals “suffering.”
  • Lastly, and most importantly, when there are visitors at SeaWorld and one has the chance to watch adults as well as children be amazed by the animals, it is apparent that the educational mission of SeaWorld and Bindi Irwin is alive every day. No nature documentary can replace the effect that the personal experience between people and the animals provide.

Without SeaWorld and a courageous lady like 15-year-old Bindi Irwin -- who is not about “risk-taking” storytelling but about “encouraging kids to get involved and be game-changers for wildlife and wild places" -- killer whales, dolphins, and many other animals would indeed be suffering.

Hundreds of killer whales die due to hunting, ocean pollution, fishing nets, and climate change, not because of SeaWorld. For anyone who has been persuaded by “Blackfish” to speak up against SeaWorld and Bindi Irwin, it might be beneficial to visit SeaWorld and ask one of the killer whales if “Blackfish” is right – you’ll most likely get the answer “NO!”