In the wake of the highly controversial documentary “Blackfish,” SeaWorld has come under scrutiny and has faced enormous damages to both its financial standing and reputation. Huffington Post recently interviewed the associate producer of “Blackfish,” Tim Zimmerman, and a former SeaWorld trainer, Kim Ashdown, to get some first-hand accounts of the issues.
The experiences of SeaWorld trainers and employees like Ashdown were key to the success of “Blackfish.” Instead of outside activists telling the world how terrible SeaWorld is, the film had its former employees turning on the park. Ashdown recalls that the company’s management was constantly ready with false information to justify the treatment of animal within its facilities. “They have this whole artillery of answers that they provide you that back all of the PR that they want you to believe.” She remembers times when the management would force a sick whale to perform in shows and would site the reasoning “if we treat her as if she is sick, then she will start acting sick,” even when the whale was clearly not eating or socializing.
As Zimmerman points out, SeaWorld makes huge profits from the killer whales it keeps in captivity and the corporation has claimed to give back to the animals as well. However, an analysis of SeaWorld’s spending shows that only 0.0006 percent of profits are actually spent on the rehabilitation and rescue of killer whales. And, as many of these rescues turn into performers, this number is actually much lower. Zimmerman said “[i]f the argument is ‘well we do some good stuff, so it’s okay if we do some bad stuff,’ that’s not a very good argument to make.”
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