Most of us are more interested in going to the movies for a suspension of disbelief instead of learning more about real-life horrors. But every now and then a documentary comes along that makes a huge splash in pop culture. Right now, Blackfish -- which is said to showcase the "dark side of SeaWorld" -- is that documentary. But you don't have to look any further than YouTube to get a disturbing glimpse at that dark side.
Carlo De Leonibus and his wife Ashley visited the Orlando theme park on July 20 to celebrate daughter Catiana's 11th birthday. All was well until a short-finned pilot whale (a member of the dolphin family) got stuck on a ledge at the edge of an aquatic show pool ... and was stranded and forced to struggle for 20 minutes while audience members looked on horrified.
Due to a lightning storm, the show had been postponed and cast members and trainers had left the stage, De Leonibus told The New York Daily News. He says he went to inform a SeaWorld employee of the situation. "He said, 'Oh, it's just playing. They do this all the time. It is normal behavior.'" Skeptical, De Leonibus went back to the stands and recorded about 30 seconds of the whale's struggle, then proceeded to post it on YouTube. He says he wasn't the only one finding it completely appalling. Apparently, the crowd was "really upset and panicking," and his daughter was screaming.
Here it is, but be FOREWARNED -- it's definitely upsetting, and there is some strong language at the beginning ...
Horrifying, right? De Leonibus says it wasn't until up to 15 minutes after this clip was filmed that two dolphin trainers showed up and pushed the pilot whale into the water. And SeaWorld's response to the ordeal?
The pilot whales come out on the ledge all the time and always get back into the deeper water without any problem. ... The animals seem to enjoy it, and it has no effect on their health or wellbeing. The younger and more inexperienced animals -- like the one on the video -- sometimes take a little longer, because they haven't completely mastered the technique yet. The whale was never in danger.
Oookay. All I know is that this sure doesn't look good in the wake of Blackfish. It may be easy to blow off a big screen documentary that could easily, at first glimpse, seem like a whole buncha hype. But when you see something like this, filmed by a regular dad with his family, visiting the amusement park for a special occasion, it's hard not to wonder if SeaWorld really is treating their animals humanely -- or at least whether the idea of keeping these majestic creatures in captivity is something we can stand for.
What do you think of this video? Are you going to see Blackfish?
Image via Carlo De Leonibus/YouTube