- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The family of Dawn Brancheau, the SeaWorld trainer who was brutally killed by a captive orca in 2010, has released a much-anticipated statement about the CNN documentary “Blackfish.”

“Blackfish,” directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, focuses on the dark side of captivity and highlights the deaths of three trainers by Tilikum, the 12,000-pound killer whale who continues to perform at SeaWorld.

The documentary has spurred protests and boycotts, with more than a dozen big-name performers canceling appearances at both SeaWorld and its sister-park Busch Gardens.

The film has brought a lot of attention to the ethical treatment of animals, and Brancheau’s family said they are grateful for that. However, they aren’t getting behind the film as a tribute to Dawn.

“Blackfish is not Dawn’s story,” the family posted on the Dawn Brancheau Foundation’s website. “Dawn Brancheau believed in the ethical treatment of animals. Dawn followed her dreams and became a marine animal trainer. She loved the whales and was proud of her work as a trainer.

Dawn thrived on introducing the whales to the audience and educating them about the animals in her care,” the statement continued, the Chicago Tribune reported. “Dawn would not have remained a trainer at SeaWorld for 15 years if she felt that the whales were not well cared for. Trainer safety was important to Dawn, and it remains important to us as well. Our family always supported Dawn and we continue to support Dawn’s friends and co-workers who currently care for the animals she so loved.”

The family concluded by emphasizing in bold print that they will not be making any further statements about the documentary.

“We ask that our privacy be respected,” it said.

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