Oftentimes, when sensationalism encompasses a popular issue, facts are lost. It happens everyday on the Internet.
When the team here at Awesome Ocean came across an interview between Kaylin Williams, a guest writer for the blog Central Florida Top5, and Bridgette Pirtle, former SeaWorld San Antonio killer whale trainer, we knew we stumbled upon some of those lost facts.
And we couldn’t wait to share them with you.
In addition to her time as a trainer, Pirtle also participated in the movie “Blackfish”. Since that time, however, she has been outspoken on the misinformation and agendas being pushed in the film.
This is why you should care.
In the interview Pirtle was asked to address her view on “Blackfish” and the effect it had on the public. To sum it up neatly, Pirtle called the film “selfish and misinformative”. She goes on to claim that “Blackfish” is an egocentric, misguided representation of what a few misled individuals feel would be best for the animals they used to care for.
Pirtle does not hide the fact that she participated in “Blackfish” – but here’s where it gets interesting: Pirtle was led to believe that this film was being created with the intention of accomplishing a positive change for the animals she cared for while also honoring the memory of Dawn [Brancheau].
Unfortunately, this is not how the filmmakers portrayed Pirtle’s involvement.
She begs viewers to ask the right questions, because only then can the inconsistencies within the stories entwined in “Blackfish” be revealed.
Slowly, unsettling answers revealed that the message of Blackfish was no longer one of hope and inspiration. Instead, I felt it shift towards frivolous accusations and fabricated stories in a craftily edited attempt to paint SeaWorld as evil.
She goes on to say:
Overall, it’s scary to see so many people look to ‘Blackfish’ as factual. It’s anything but a fact-based documentary. It’s opinion-driven, fueled by outdated experiences and contrived scientific studies. Events recalled by former trainers are exaggerated or, even worse, fabricated. It is a tool of animal activist propaganda that takes advantage of a mainstream audience that lacks the knowledge of a more appropriate and current depiction of animal training and zoological facilities operating today.
Pirtle described her first experience with killer whales in Orlando as, “a simple learning session…[that] shaped my dreams and aspirations for decades to come.” After recounting the moment that changed her life, Pirtle went on to examine the care and research SeaWorld applies toward their killer whales.
She highlighted SeaWorld’s care and research as the pinnacle of the industry. Pirtle says she was fortunate to be a part of several different research projects throughout her ten years at SeaWorld and there was ample opportunity to add to our knowledge of killer whales.
Because of their dedication to research, we now know that killer whales are capable of learning different dialects of communication. That’s unbelievable.
And as for SeaWorld’s killer whale care? Pirtle insists you will never meet anyone more dedicated to their job than the trainers and zookeepers of SeaWorld. To those dedicated professionals, there is not a moment in their lives that they are not prepared to drop anything to answer the needs of the animals.
When asked what it means to be a SeaWorld trainer, Pirtle exemplified the term, “humble”.
“It’s an honor and a privilege that few get the opportunity to be a part of,” Pirtle said. “Being a trainer is about genuine passion, selfless sacrifice, and endless dedication each and every day.”
Now that’s what we’d call a role model.
The interview also addressed Pirtle’s stance on enrichment activities, waterwork behaviors with killer whales, and even the possibility of transferring animals to sea pens.
To be abundantly clear, we invite and encourage you to read the full interview here. Please take part in your due diligence to make sure we did not twist any of Bridgette Pirtle’s words or take her phrases out of context.
We would also like to offer special thanks to Kaylin Williams for conducting this eye-opening and informative interview and to Bridgette Pirtle for her participation.