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Posts Tagged ‘Blackfish’

Ex-SeaWorld Trainer: Director Asked Me to Wait Until After Awards Season to Criticize Blackfish

Towards the end of a very provocative micechat.com interview with Bridgette Pirtle, a former SeaWorld trainer who was intricately involved with the production of Blackfish, she is asked what she thinks the goal of the film’s director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, was.

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Pirtle’s harsh answer:

“To win the Academy Award®. Once it was apparent that there was no real interest in revealing the whole truth, I knew it was another person’s attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the story of Dawn [Brancheau] and Alexis [Martinez].”

“I know first-hand that any attempt of an experienced trainer looking to speak on behalf of the animals was quickly dismissed. Attempts to publish articles that presented a more fair, honest and unbiased perspective were eventually nixed at the very last minute. It was naive of me to seek to expose the truth that contradicted many of those within the film via CNN, the company which had a vested interest in the success of the film.”

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NYT Talks to Blackfish Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

GabrielaCowperthwaitePicIn case you missed it, Larry Rohter had an informative Q&A the other day in the New York Times with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

The Oscar-shortlisted Cowperthwaite spoke with Rohter via telephone. At one point, she explained that in an attempt to get SeaWorld to participate in the film, she broke a golden rule of journalism:

“For about six months, I went back and forth with them. At one point they said it was likely they would grant me an interview. They asked for my questions, which you know as a journalist you never do, but I still gave them my questions. And they asked me who I had interviewed. I did not disclose that, for obvious reasons. I did not want to put anybody at risk. But they finally said no.”

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Makers of The Cove Respond to SeaWorld Newspaper Ad

OPSLogoIt’s turning out to be a very messy Christmas for beleaguered attraction SeaWorld. In response to the theme park’s open letter published last Friday in newspapers across the country, the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) – an organization made up of individuals responsible for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove – is this week circulating a much longer rebuttal.

The Boulder, CO-based group warns that “no amount of advertising will counter the Blackfish effect.” Rather, OPS is urging SeaWorld to change its harmful, bottom-line ways:

SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales in the wild — it now has other people capture animals for them. The genetic diversity of orcas in captivity is low, often resulting in inbreeding. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act prevents SeaWorld from capturing wild animals directly without federal permits, it resorts to creative ways of introducing new animals and fresh DNA into the system.

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SeaWorld Publishes Open Letter in NYT, WSJ

SeaWorldLogoNow the question becomes: In the shadow of this week’s gigantic A&E PR nightmare, will this separate effort to control the damage to an equally lucrative franchise succeed?

A letter such as this, which appears today in ten U.S. newspapers, is the result of many expensive hours of consulted time. In our humble opinion, SeaWorld got its money’s worth. The tone is just right and the six bulletted information points each offer a solid counter-argument to the CNN documentary Blackfish. For example:

SeaWorld invests millions of dollars in the care of our killer whales. In the last three years alone, we have invested $70 million in our killer whale habitats and millions of dollars annually in support of these facilities. Our habitats are among the largest in the world today. They are state-of-the-art, multimillion-gallon environments of cooled and filtered water that allow for the highest and safest standards of care. We give our animals restaurant-quality fish, exercise, veterinary care, mental stimulation, and the company of other members of their species.

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