Walt Disney World news

SeaWorld Orlando responds regarding "beached" whale

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Jul 31, 2013 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
SeaWorld Orlando is under fire yet again, this time over a pilot whale that was "beached" on a ledge. A guest videoed the incident, which shows a young pilot whale who slid up on a ledge and began wriggling, appearing to be stuck. In the video, you can hear the crowd screaming and becoming very concerned that the whale had beached itself and was not able to get off the ledge. Several minutes later, two trainers helped push the whale back into the water. SeaWorld released a statement saying that this is actually normal behavior for a pilot whale and that it was "not stranded or beached." Because of its young age, the animal may have had a more difficult time getting back off the ledge than an older whale. The statement continued, "This is social play or behavior our trainers see daily."

This is just the latest in a string of potential black marks on the marine park's image, coming right before the release of the film Blackfish, which is a documentary discussing the death of one of SeaWorld's trainers by a killer whale. The film's creators want to showcase what they say is brutal treatment of these whales while they're in captivity. SeaWorld has released a statement regarding the film:

"Blackfish is billed as a documentary, but instead of a fair and balanced treatment of a complex subject, the film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau's family, friends and colleagues. To promote its bias that killer whales should not be maintained in a zoological setting, the film paints a distorted picture that withholds from viewers key facts about SeaWorld - among them, that SeaWorld is one of the world's most respected zoological institutions, that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, and that SeaWorld commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research. Perhaps most important, the film fails to mention SeaWorld's commitment to the safety of its team members and guests and to the care and welfare of its animals, as demonstrated by the company's continual refinement and improvement to its killer whale facilities, equipment and procedures both before and after the death of Dawn Brancheau."