Over the course of almost twenty years, Tilikum the Orca was responsible for the deaths of three people across various water parks the creature performed at. Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite looked beyond the tragedy of these deaths and focused on the tragedy of the Orca’s captivity. In a 2013 documentary called Blackfish, she shifted the blame towards SeaWorld. Cowperthwaite’s allegations were based on her belief that captivity was turning these creatures into violent animals with drastically shortened lifespans.
As you might imagine, Blackfish was not a favorite film among SeaWorld executives, who were now forced to answer a barrage of questions regarding whether or not they were responsible for these murders as well as the tortured lives of their most famous performers. SeaWorld representatives claimed that Cowperthwaite had twisted certain pieces of information to her benefit in order to sensationalize a tragedy. Nevertheless, SeaWorld’s business was undoubtedly hindered. They were eventually forced to end their orca breeding program as well as all orca performances.