The family of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed in 2010 when the killer whale Tilikum pulled her under the water, has broken their silence about the documentary "Blackfish," which criticizes animal captivity at the SeaWorld parks.
Brancheau's family members posted a statement Tuesday on the Dawn Brancheau Foundation website, saying they have been repeatedly asked about how they feel about "Blackfish" since its release last year.
Family members say Brancheau wouldn't have worked at SeaWorld for 15 years if she didn't think the whales were well-cared for, and they continue to support Brancheau's former co-workers who still train with the marine animals at SeaWorld parks.
"The film has brought a great deal of attention to the welfare of animals, and for that we are grateful," the Brancheau family said. "However, 'Blackfish' is not Dawn's story."
Below is the complete statement from Dawn Brancheau's family regarding "Blackfish":
There has recently been an abundance of attention focused on the film Blackfish. As the family of Dawn Brancheau, we are continually asked how we feel about the movie. We would like to take this opportunity to write briefly about the film so we can move on and continue our efforts to make the world a better place in honor of Dawn.
First and foremost, we are not affiliated with this movie in any way. We did not assist with its creation and were unaware of its content until the film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. The Dawn Brancheau Foundation as well as our family members have never and will never accept any compensation from its production.
The film has brought a great deal of attention to the welfare of animals, and for that we are grateful. However, Blackfish is not Dawn's story. 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. 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.
Since Dawn's death nearly four years ago, the media has focused mainly on the whales. A human life was lost that day and it feels as though some believe her death was just a footnote. Dawn's death is central to our story. In 2010, we created the Dawn Brancheau Foundation in her honor to continue the legacy of the work important to Dawn during her life. The Foundation focuses on improving the lives of children and animals in need, inspiring others to follow their dreams, and promoting the importance of community service. The Foundation will continue its efforts to make a difference in our world. We are grateful for all the caring individuals who help us keep Dawn's light shining brightly.
The Family of Dawn Brancheau will not be making any further statements and we ask that our privacy be respected.