After succumbing to disease at the tender age of 36, our beloved Tilikum, the orca that started a Blackfish revolution, may finally be free from the confines of captivity, but many more orcas remain locked behind glass and the illusion of public entertainment. And many, many more will know that same fate if China has its way.
Orca captivity is banned in more than a dozen countries, including Switzerland, Greece, India, Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Chile. U.S. states like Hawaii, New York, and South Carolina have instated such a ban within their borders, as well, understanding the inhumane suffering these emotionally complex mammals endure under such unnatural circumstances. It’s a growing global trend brought on by public pressure, which is causing theme parks around the world to abandon their captive orca breeding programs. These programs are plagued with rampant inbreeding and often involve breeding these beautiful animals at way too young an age than is natural and healthy for their species, which often results in early abandonment and even premature death among young calves. The popular cause has even driven Sea World to scrap its nightmare of a breeding program.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that in China, the opposite is taking place, fueled by a burgeoning middle class hungry for leisurely entertainment. It wasn’t enough for the country to steal these magnificent cetaceans from the wild, so in February, the country’s largest amusement park opened its first orca breeding center in the southeastern city of Zhuhai with nine captive whales selected to procreate for this harrowing cause. This center claims its goal is to “help cultivate the public’s awareness of whale protection,” but as more and more people on our side of the globe are finally coming to realize, whale captivity does not equate to protection. Orcas suffer horribly in these confinements, live and behave completely unnaturally, and endure much shorter life spans as a result.
Many here in the West have woken to this truth because of the documentary “Blackfish,” and the China Cetacean Alliance (CCA) is hoping to create a similar wave of hope in its motherland with a documentary of its own.
Like “Blackfish,” the film drives in the cruel and unfair nature of captivity, how this affects the animals’ welfare, and how their natural frustration leads to public safety risks, especially for trainers.
Let’s get the word out as far and wide as possible so that it might generate the same level of public awareness, interest, and action as we’ve seen here in the States. You can start by sharing this article and encouraging friends and family to watch the film’s trailer above, then keep an eye out for the full feature length film on the CCA’s Weibo account and promote that when it’s released.
Image source: Animals Asia / YouTube