Long Gone Wild will prove to be just as damaging for SeaWorld and other marine aquariums as Blackfish was six years ago.
Here is where things stand upon the documentary’s release: there are 60 orcas living in captivity. The orcas are spread across 15 parks in 8 different countries. All in all, 160 orcas have died while living in captivity. This only proves to show just how psychologically damaging it is to have these large animals in small tanks. It is certainly not right to be living in these conditions.
One of the whales who ended their life was Hugo, Lolita’s tank mate at the Miami Seaquarium. Lolita has been living in Miami for 50 years. She’s lonely without her mate and this is perfectly understandable. What’s even worse is that when a category five hurricane was gunning for Miami, the owners did nothing. The company got lucky that the storm made a turn and didn’t lead to a direct hit because the results would have only been disastrous.
I developed my love for these majestic creatures after seeing Free Willy. It was with great interest that I followed the developments of Keiko’s story. Life has a funny way of imitating art. While Keiko would eventually be free to live back in the wild, a lifetime of living in captivity doesn’t necessarily help. Sure, he was relocated from a small Mexican tank to a larger tank providing more freedom. Finally, Keiko would be relocated off the shore of Iceland in July 2002. But again, spending one’s whole life in captivity isn’t helpful when it comes to finally being free. The killer whale, who stole our hearts in 1993, would be dead come December 2003.
The Whale Sanctuary Project became a game changer in the fight against SeaWorld and the like. Their main goal is to set up a seaside sanctuary for orcas. While Sea World has taken up a solid amount of attention, things are more damaging overseas. Eastern Russia has become home to new orca capture operations in the Sea of Okhotsk. These whales, some of which have been imprisoned in whale jail, have been sold for use in China’s marine theme parks. We can speak out all we want to but the only opinion in China that matters is that of their president, Xi Jinping. As he goes, so goes the rest of the country.
How bad is it in China? At one point, we play witness to a hunt by Neal and The Cove‘s Ric O’Barry for nine orcas being held at a secret location near the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. Moreover, the Chinese industry alone is just staggering with some 80 marine parks and counting. The Russians benefit at a cost of $7 million per orca.
SeaWorld declined all opportunities to provide their side of the story. I honestly cannot say that this surprises me. While declining interviews, Sea World COO John Reilly issued a statement:
“The animals at our parks have, for all practical purposes, become accustomed to human care. This is all they know. To take them out of this environment would be inhuman and irresponsible.”
This may be their opinion but it shows once again that the company certainly isn’t getting it. Orcas are still performing at Sea World. This is in spite of legislation filed in both California and Florida. Both of which would have been damaging to the billion dollar corporation.
Long Gone Wild starts where Blackfish left off and if there’s any hope, it should put an end to the capturing of orcas once and for all. If you want to send a message to SeaWorld and the like, the best thing you can do is not buy a ticket to their shows. Don’t support these corporations that would rather place these animals on display for entertainment purposes only.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: William Neal
FEATURING: Richard Bloom, Rachel Carbary, Carly Ferguson, Jeff Foster, Katy Leveck Foster, David Kirby, Dr. Terry Kupers, Dr. Lori Marino, Jared Moskowitz, David Neiwert, Ric O’Barry, Ong Chin-Ee, Carol Ray, Dr. Naomi Rose, Jeff Ventre, Charles Vinick, Dr. Ingrid Visser, Stephen Wells, Steven Wise, Joe Woodward