SeaWorld trainers fight back against controversial CNN documentary


by Sharon Ko / KENS 5

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 11:38 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- SeaWorld is fighting back against the controversial CNN documentary "Blackfish" which portrayed the park as mistreating and exploiting killer whales.  SeaWorld has called the documentary propaganda with an anti-captivity agenda. 

Current and former trainers are now speaking out publicly and voicing their concerns over the project.

Holly Byrd, a current SeaWorld trainer said Blackfish is misleading viewers through its video footage. In one part of the documentary, a woman is seen describing her experience training with a killer whale but Byrd said, that video was of her.

"That was two years of my career, leading up to that point, they twisted and took from me," explained Byrd.

SeaWorld said manipulation through video isn't the only misleading part of the film.  Mark Simmons, a former trainer who was featured in the film said his words were taken out of context.

"In almost everything that had particular weight to it that I said, was not included in the film," said Simmons.

"What really upset me, was this idea that SeaWorld has deceived its trainers and the public because that couldn't be further from the truth."

As for the documentary's focus on Tilikum, a killer whale involved in the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010, the park said the whale did not turn on the trainee because of its captivity.

SeaWorld said the documentary as a whole, depicts anything but the truth when it comes to the theme park's mission.

"There's no evil empire. I am not an evil, dark Vader minion, you know? I have a heart too. I would not have worked the career that I did and come to work like I did, if I ever thought these animals were treated like anything other than royalty," said Simmons.

The park is now ramping up its campaign against the documentary through online videos.

For SeaWorld's full criticism on the film, click here.