On Christmas 2009, the world was shocked to hear that Keto, an adult male orca at the Loro Parque zoo in Tenerife, was responsible for the death of an orca trainer. Alexis Martine was killed by Keto during a training session.
Just 62 days later, Tilikum, a male orca in SeaWorld Orlando, added a new victim to his list. In February 2010, Tilikum killed his trainer Dawn Brancheau. Before that, Tilikum has been involved in three other deaths in SeaWorld.
With that, Tilikum become the most famous and most recognizable orca whale alive in captivity. His story became a book, and then a movie, called “The Blackfish”. The documentary features scenes from Tilikum, but also interviews and sections with Martinez and Keto, a similar pairing of orca and trainer in Tenerife.
The debate has been heard over and over, should killer orca whales be kept in captivity? We all enjoy their performances and the excitement is sky high when they fly through the air in sea parks. But the question is, at what price?
The documentary features never before seen footage of training with Tilikum, the extreme distances orca trainers have to go in order to fully bond with the orca whale, and how they tame them. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t and ends up in a disaster.