New SeaWorld Documentary Sparks Controversy

The documentary Blackfish puts the spotlight on the capture and treatment of animals at SeaWorld and the theme park is defending itself. INSIDE EDITION reports.

It's the documentary that's sparking a new controversy about SeaWorld and the tragic death of killer whale trainer, Dawn Brancheau.

The documentary Blackfish is highly critical of the way Orcas are trained and cared for in captivity. It recounts how Brancheau was dragged to her death at SeaWorld in Orlando by a killer whale named Tilikum in 2010. The film, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles and other cities in August, shows how killer whales are captured in the wild.

The New York Daily News movie critic says the new picture is "A must-see - if you have a strong stomach." The New York Times calls it a "hyper-critical investigation."

INSIDE EDITION spoke to killer whale biologist Dr. Naomi Rose, of the Humane Society International. She helped in the making of the film.

"It is harmful to them. It shortens their lifespan. It causes abnormal behavior," Dr. Rose said.

But SeaWorld is now launching an angry counterattack. They're using a New York public relations firm to issue a point-by-point rebuttal of the film's criticisms.

SeaWorld told INSIDE EDITION: "The film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau's family, friends, and colleagues. The film fails to mention Seaworld's commitment to the safety of its team members and guests and to the care and welfare of its animals."

Dr. Rose responded to the review saying, "It's unusual for them. They don't respond to direct attacks or direct criticism."

Tilikum, meanwhile, is still performing at SeaWorld, although trainers are no longer allowed in the water with him.