The impact of Dogwoof documentary Blackfish has continued to grow since release, as this week a piece of Californian legislation inspired by the film amassed over a million signatures of support online, and the first stage of a similar New York bill was approved by Senate committee.
In the state of California, legislation was proposed on 7 March that would ban the use of Orca’s for entertainment purposes in amusement park acts. "It is time that we embrace that the long-accepted practice of keeping Orcas captive for human amusement must end," stated Assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Democrat from Santa Monica who proposed the bill. Meanwhile in New York, a bill that would ban keeping orca whales in captivity passed in the state’s Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation this week. Proposed by Sen. Greg Ball, Senate Bill 6613 would ban “the possession and harboring of killer whales in New York State aquariums and sea parks.”
Blackfish Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite with bill proposer Richard Bloom
The bills have been brought about in response to Blackfish, which tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. An online petition supporting the California bill has already garned over a million signatures, with support from many corners including the likes of Stephen Fry over on Twitter:
For anyone who saw Blackfish or knows about Seaworld’s treatment of the orca this is good news. More pressure now! http://t.co/QQ02j9aYc9— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) March 24, 2014
Since Blackfish was released, the film has inspired many people to change their ideas on marine parks. From celebrities speaking out on Twitter, protests outside venues where whales are held in captivity, to changes to Pixar's upcoming Finding Nemo sequel, and famous bands withdrawing from scheduled gigs at the parks, these bills are a huge step in the direction towards change.
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.