Horsham wildlife charity welcomes ‘Blackfish’ star

Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, Sam Berg and Daniel Turner
Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, Sam Berg and Daniel Turner

Horsham-based international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation, welcomed an important guest to their Foundry Lane offices on Tuesday 12th November as ex-SeaWorld trainer Samantha Berg visited from the US.

Samantha met with Will Travers OBE, Born Free’s CEO, for an important question and answer session about her experiences as a dolphin trainer and her involvement in ‘Blackfish’, the ground-breaking documentary that exposes the reality of using orca (commonly known as ‘killer whales’) for entertainment.

As one of those featured in the enlightening film, the visit to the Born Free offices came at the end of a whistle-stop European tour for Samantha and ‘Blackfish’, with eight premier screenings in seven different countries in 20 days. All of these were accompanied by a Q&A with the ex-trainer after the film screening which allowed people the chance to ask their individual questions and find out more.

Samantha was keen to speak out about what she had witnessed first-hand whilst working at SeaWorld Orlando and also what she had come to learn from other trainers and, by doing so, provided the public with a valuable insight into the hidden truths behind the billion dollar captive dolphin industry.

She explains how important it was for her to, “share my personal story of participating in the captive marine mammal industry and my subsequent change of heart to help people realize that the exploitation of whales and dolphins for human entertainment and profit needs to end”.

She continued: “’Blackfish’ has the ability to open the hearts and minds of people who may not have ever considered the issues that plague marine mammals suffering in captivity, but the film also inspires people to want to come together around a common goal. By unifying the efforts of the population at large along with the knowledge and experience of people who have been working on this issue for years - real momentum has been created towards the ultimate dissolution of dolphinariums”.

Following multiple screenings in the US by CNN, increasing numbers of celebrities have been taking to Twitter to add their voices to the tirade of support for the documentary and outcry against captive facilities like as SeaWorld, including Stephen Fry, Ewan McGregor, Russell Brand and Miley Cyrus.

Speaking about the impact of the documentary, Will Travers OBE said: “’Blackfish’ is a damning indictment of the commercial exploitation of magnificent wild creatures and I challenge any reasonable person who sees this film, listens to the testimony of former trainers and hears the evidence for themselves not to come to the same conclusion. It’s over.”

‘Blackfish’ will be shown tonight (Thursday 21st November) at 9pm on BBC4.

For more information, to buy the DVD and to watch the Q&A with Will Travers, visit www.bornfree.org.uk/blackfish

Report contributed by the Born Free Foundation.