Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of “Blackfish”

by | Jul 24, 2013

Gabriela Cowperthwaite—the director of  “Blackfish,” the documentary examining the perils of keeping killer whales in captivity, with a focus on SeaWorld & Tilikum, who’s killed three people and emerges as an unfortunate poster boy for captive orcas going postal—discusses the profound sadness pouring out of several people who are interviewed onscreen.Gabriela+Cowperthwaite+Black+Fish+Portraits+3phSGeNOo5HxShe also explains how she came to make “Blackfish”—not as an animal activist, but as a documentary filmmaker and mother who took her kids to SeaWorld, noting that as she investigated the operation and captive orcas, the information she found most surprising is that the whales do not get along and attack each other not infrequently. Cowperthwaite also addresses SeaWorld’s response to “Blackfish” (sending a missive to 50 prominent film critics harshly criticizing the movie, challenging the validity of several portions of it), wryly expressing some surprise that SeaWorld article-2308931-1949DF01000005DC-572_634x420would choose to aim its attack at the facts she presents.  She shares her impression of Tilikum and how that shifted 180 degrees over the course of making the film–she started out terrified, coming to him in the wake of Tilikum killing SeaWorld Orlando head trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010–revealing complex feelings but ultimately arriving at great sadness for the 12,000-pound bull orca who is, effectively, the star of her film.   (,

ALSO: We spoke briefly with Nancy McCall, Director of Development for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, about HSTB’s participation in PetSmart Charities’ national program, “Primp Your Pit,” that enables people in Hillsborough County to get their pit bulls spayed or neutered for $20.  (

COMEDY CORNER: Brian Regan’s “Whale Noises”  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” The Killer Whales’ “Orca’s Revenge,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The Rolling Stones’  “Beast of Burden”


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