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Op-Ed: Amid SeaWorld's silence, Blackfish premieres tonight on CNN

By Elizabeth Batt     Oct 24, 2013 in Environment
A week-long series of specials about orcas in captivity culminates tonight with the premiere of Blackfish on CNN. Gabriela Cowperthwaite's damning documentary focuses on Tilikum, SeaWorld's prime bull orca.
Strangely reticent and absent during the lead-up to the documentary's premiere is SeaWorld, the massive entertainment park that owns and displays Tilikum and many other killer whales.
Tilikum, the mammoth 12,000 lb., 22.5-foot orca has been involved in the deaths of three people since being captured as a youngster off the coast of Iceland in November 1983. It was his killing of senior trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 that sparked interest in the killer whale's history.
Brancheau's death led to ongoing legal wrangling for SeaWorld, it also garnered Cowperthwaite's interest. After Blackfish opened to rave reviews earlier this year at Sundance, it was purchased by Magnolia and CNN Films. It enjoyed similar reviews following a successful cinematic release and will finally premiere tonight on CNN.
Ahead of the film, several specials having already aired on CNN this week. Further interviews and discussions are scheduled to precede and follow tonight's premiere. SeaWorld however, remains mostly reticent. The corporation's response for requested interviews by CNN have largely gone ignored.
"SeaWorld declined to be interviewed," said a reporter with CNN's Anderson Cooper show. The same response was reiterated in a special hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell of CNN Headline News.
Offered the stage by a primetime news network, SeaWorld has declined to defend its business model or enter the debate. Whether arrogance is paramount, or it lacks the answers to legitimately posed questions by credible experts, SeaWorld issued just one response to CNN's questions.
It was a soft Q&A between the company's Vice President of Communications Fred Jacobs and CNN, but Jacobs' answers were immediately shredded via the discussion area by marine mammal scientist Dr. Naomi Rose, and in this article by Death at SeaWorld author, David Kirby.
Perhaps SeaWorld finds it difficult to argue with a film that incorporates original footage and testimonies from former employees — now career professionals, who value their credibility?
Unfortunately for SeaWorld, the reasoning behind its ostrich-like mentality could be revealed after tonight's premiere of Blackfish. After that, any choice on the company's part to remain silent, might be far less golden and far more suicidal — especially as the movie has been tipped to win an Oscar.
Blackfish premieres on CNN at 9pm ET.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, death at seaworld, Seaworld, Tilikum
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