Gabriela Cowperthwaite (2013)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's second feature goes into marine parks to look at the effect of life there on its inhabitants, both human and animal. In 2010, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau was killed by a five-tonne orca called Tilikum at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. The authorities implied that the trainer had been careless and maintained its position that water parks are safe and provide a nurturing environment for marine life. But this was actually the third time that Tilikum had lived up to his name of killer whale, following deaths in 1991 and 1999. Cowperthwaite doesn't seek to demonise Tilikum, however. Instead, she presents cogent evidence from behavioural experts and the penitent testimony of a number of ex-trainers to reveal the psychological damage that captivity can cause these clever, sociable creatures who never attack humans in the wild. SeaWorld declined interviews. Some of the archive footage is exceedingly harrowing, but the case against commercially condoned cruelty is made without sensationalism, and few will be able to watch this without a growing sense of outrage.


Documentary about a performing killer whale in a sea life park that caused the deaths of three trainers. The film examines the orca's time in captivity and how the experience may have influenced its behaviour, as well as revealing how financial pressures in the wildlife park industry can lead to cruel treatment of the animals.

Cast & Crew

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Series Editor Nick Fraser

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: DogwoofGuidance: Disturbing scenes of injuries.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 26 Jul 2013