Activists protest at SeaWorld after release of killer whale documentary



ORLANDO, Fla. - A group of activists protested at SeaWorld on Saturday, a day after a new documentary about killer whales in captivity hit theaters across the country.

The new documentary, called "Blackfish," paints a scathing picture of how SeaWorld allegedly treats its killer whales.

SeaWorld has not commented on-camera yet about the documentary, which opened in select theaters Friday. A trailer for the new movie was also released on Friday.

On Saturday morning, a few dozen demonstrators gathered outside of the theme park as part of a protest called "Empty the Tanks."

"We hope that the public, once they get an opportunity to truly see how these animals live, that they really start to consider what their entertainment purchase is buying, and that's life in a tiny little concrete tank," Bryan Wilson with the Animals Right Foundation of Florida said.

In addition to the protesters, a few SeaWorld supporters were there to defend the park's practices.

"Over past years, they've rescued and rehabilitated over 22,000 animals and I think that deserves to be celebrated," supporter Eric Davis said.

The "Blackfish" trailer begins with a horrifying chapter in Orlando tourism history, a 911 call about the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. The film goes much deeper and is aimed at the culture of killer whale training and captivity.

Channel 9's Steve Barrett asked tourists if shedding light more light on the controversy would turn them away from SeaWorld.

"You have to make a choice, and this year we did not choose SeaWorld, we chose Busch Gardens and Universal, and this, really, we won't go," said tourist Magaly Hunts. "I hope it helps the animals."

Other tourists said they won't change their plans.

"It's unfortunate that they have to be in captivity, but it can be educational for the children and they can learn more and more," said tourist Lavoris Hair. "We can't send them in the ocean and have them learn about killer whales."

The woman who directed the documentary said she is not an animal activist, only a documentarian.