SeaWorld to Salvation: New Film Reveals Hope for Captive Orcas

SeaWorld to Salvation: New Film Reveals Hope for Captive Orcas

Despite intense backlash from Blackfish, a film released in 2013 that sent SeaWorld's stock into a tailspin, not much has changed for the orcas held captive there. Now a new documentary, Long Gone Wild, aims to provide an in-depth look at the case against captivity.

Long Gone Wild writer, producer, and director, William Neal, became fascinated with orcas during the writing of his first novel, Rogue Justice, which features an orca super species. As part of his research he moved to Port Townsend, Washington, on the shores of Puget Sound, where he had the opportunity to meet orca experts and see orcas in the wild. He quickly became convinced that these incredibly powerful, intelligent, social animals do not belong in concrete tanks. 

Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals with director William Neal at the Long Gone Wild premiere

This became the impetus for Long Gone Wild, a riveting documentary which exposes the brutal truth about captive orcas who continue to be forced to perform every day at SeaWorld. The film addresses SeaWorld’s claim that its orcas cannot be released because there is no place for them to go; these magnificent animals cannot simply be dumped into the ocean.

But that is about to change thanks to the visionary work of cetacean advocates who are soon to begin work on a model seaside sanctuary for retired orcas: a netted-off cove in their natural habitat where they will receive 24/7 care. Most importantly, there will be no requirement the orcas to perform.

In addition to building a compelling case against captivity, Long Gone Wild showcases the intelligence and majesty of the mighty orca, while weaving in poignant stories like that told by former SeaWorld trainer Carol Ray, who describes the heart-wrenching separation of a baby orca from her mother, one of five calves taken from her during her time in captivity. 

The film also highlights the dire situation in the East, where orcas are being captured from Russian waters for sale into China's exploding marine theme park industry. The price tag: a staggering $7 million per whale. During the filming of Long Gone Wild, Neal and renowned animal advocate Ric O'Barry uncovered nine orcas secretly held outside the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China, as part of a stealth operation that nearly landed them in jail.

This exposé of the brutal international trade in captive orcas and hopeful glimpse into the future is brought to the screen by William Neal and producers Michele Wolpe, William Rowan Jr. and Rachel Weil. Visit to watch.

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