Bosses at SeaWorld have spoken out to condemn new killer whale documentary Blackfish for its "inaccurate" portrayal of the U.S. animal theme park.
The movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (13), chronicles the plight of a whale, who made international headlines in 2010 when he killed his female trainer during a live show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite's project focuses on the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity, and the director argues that mammals are held in deplorable conditions, which contribute to their aggression.
But now park officials have taken aim at the expose ahead of its U.S. release, insisting the movie is riddled with false claims.
Challenging the "insinuation" SeaWorld continues to capture wild orcas for its exhibits and mistreats its killer whales with punishment-based training, a statement from the company reads, "Although Blackfish is by most accounts a powerful, emotionally-moving piece of advocacy, it is also shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate.
"As the late scholar and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously noted: 'You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'"
Blackfish is the latest Hollywood black eye for SeaWorld bosses - last year (12) Oscar winner Marion Cotillard vowed never to return to a sea-life centre after shooting scenes for her film role as an Orca trainer at a water park.
The Greenpeace activist admitted the work she had to do for Rust & Bone at a Maryland Sea World made her sick.
She told C magazine, "I'd rather see whales in their own environment and not in a swimming pool. I will never go back to a Sea World. I really feel uncomfortable in these places, where animals are kept in captivity, so when I got there, I was really anxious, but then I had to do the job and I met these people who are passionate about what they do. I respect them but I will never understand."