SeaWorld speaks out about whales in captivity - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SeaWorld speaks out about whales in captivity

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - In the wake of the "Blackfish" controversy, SeaWorld San Diego is speaking out about its practice of keeping killer whales in captivity to perform for audiences.

"From the whales' perspective, the whales actually anticipate doing the shows and like doing the shows," said SeaWorld Animal ambassador Julie Scardina. "We create an environment that is interesting and stimulating and fun so the whales want to participate."

Scardina said that SeaWorld provides a balance of activities that is healthy and humane to its trained whales.

"You put all those activities together with the relationship that we're building and the shows that we do, and that creates a day that is full of variety, both physical and mental, for the animals," Scardina said.

The CNN documentary "Blackfish," which examines the death of a SeaWorld trainer in Orlando, killed in February 2010 by a six ton killer whale, questions the ethics of keeping whales in tanks and training them to entertain crowds of onlookers.

"There was a lot about 'Blackfish' that was inaccurate and misleading," Scardina said. "But we're here today to talk about the fact that these animals benefit from doing all the variety of activities, including shows, that we provide for them throughout the day."

While SeaWorld would not elaborate on what it finds "inaccurate and misleading" about "blackfish," they did address some direct questions, including claims made by protestors that a whale's collapsed dorsal fins signals its unhappiness.

"The position of the dorsal fin has nothing to do with the emotion of the whale," countered Scardina.

SeaWorld also reacted to proposed state legislation that would ban the use of performing orcas at California entertainment parks.

"It frankly it means we are doing the same types of things, but we're not allowing anybody to see it," Scardina said, "and that just seems kind of a waste."

The first public hearing on that legislation is scheduled for April 8.

Earlier this week, former mayor Jerry Sanders, now head of San Diego's Chamber of Commerce, voiced his opposition to this bill, saying that not only is it based off misleading claims about SeaWorld's operations, but it also threatens the area's tourism industry.

Earlier this month, SeaWorld officials said that despite the release of "Blackfish," attendance at their theme parks has not been impacted, claiming record numbers of visitors during the last three months of 2013.

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