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LONG GONE WILD carries on Blackfish's legacy to heartbreaking effect, while offering hope for the future of captive orcas.


Written By

Nick R. Murphy

Cinema Trends

LONG GONE WILD (from writer-producer-director William Neal) examines how captive orcas (killer whales) have been harmed by prolonged handling and confinement behind the bars of an industry that relies on these animals as cheap labor. Through these eyes, it is clear that the cruel treatment of these animals is endemic and largely hidden by those in power. While it's certainly true that there is a need for better protection and welfare practices for the animals in captivity, it is also necessary to point out just how far away that time may actually be. And activists from all corners of the world have joined together to lead the charge toward change and give these animals the freedom they deserve.


The heartbreaking revelations that uncovered the grim truth behind the treatment of captive orcas around the globe have absorbed into the public consciousness over the last decade. And in an effort to not lose sight of this reality, LONG GONE WILD has slipped a magnifying glass over this inhumane scandal once again, picking up where the gripping 2013 documentary, Blackfish left off,  most  notably  this:  that  while  concessions were

made by SeaWorld in the wake of that film, nothing has changed for the whales. They are still performing every day before unwitting audiences.

LONG GONE WILD also presents the startling reality that orcas are still being brutally killed in capture operations in Eastern Europe. This is a sobering reminder about the ongoing threat to orcas, who are considered by many to be among the most intelligent animals on Earth, capable of sophisticated levels of learning and communication.


LONG GONE WILD explores the origins behind how orcas became a form of exploitive “entertainment” back in 1965, when Ted Griffin, then-owner of the Seattle Marine Aquarium, spent $8,000 to buy Namu, a male killer whale measuring 22 feet long and weighing in at four tons. Namu was wildly popular, and was featured in his very own eponymous movie, Namu: The Killer Whale. Unfortunately, just over a year after his capture, Namu was found dead in his pen on July 9, 1966.

This began the widespread exploitation of captive orcas, and the public's fascination soon led to the creation and sale of wild-captured whales. The idea started out as a way to produce spectacle or "entertainment" for the masses, and over time, it has evolved into a very profitable industry.

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Orcas are forced to perform silly circus tricks to entertain unwitting audiences who leave with entirely the wrong message.

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Orcas travel in close-knit family pods, swim up to 140 miles per day, and dive to depths of 300 feet and beyond in their hunt for fish and mammals…

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Apart from shining a light on the tragic history and current state of orcas in captivity, LONG GONE WILD also exposes widespread greed and corruption throughout Russia and China. One major sequence features a high-stakes Russian operation that captures orcas in the wild in order to sell them off to the rapidly growing Chinese marine theme park market, which consists of some eighty parks with more on the way. Each whale reportedly sells at a whopping $7 million apiece. Activist Ric O’Barry (The Cove) tags along with filmmakers on a covert mission to find nine whales held at a hidden Chinese location. The film also uncovers a secret orca capture operation in remote Russian waters, a story that sparked a worldwide uproar involving  the confinement of 90 beluga whales and 11 orcas in a Russian “whale jail.”


On a much more hopeful note, LONG GONE WILD gives the viewer an inside look into the inspirational work of the “dream team” of world-renowned orca experts at The Whale Sanctuary Project, which is set to unveil a model seaside sanctuary for retired orcas – a netted off cove some 300x the size of a concrete tank where the whales will receive 24/7 care. It is the first of its kind in the world. The sanctuary provides orcas a safe and permanent home in their natural habitat where they can flourish during their remaining years.


LONG GONE WILD is an insightful exploration told through compelling visuals and a penetrating musical score. It features interviews with leading experts in the field including: Dr. Naomi Rose (Animal Welfare Institute); Dr. Lori Marino and Charles Vinick (The Whale Sanctuary Project); Dr. Ingrid Visser (internationally renowned orca expert); Carol Ray and Jeffrey Ventre (former SeaWorld Trainers); Jeffrey Foster (a NOAA Environmental Hero of the Year) and conservationist Katy Laveck Foster;  authors David Kirby ("Death at SeaWorld") and David Neiwert ("Of Orcas and Men"); Steven Wise (President, Nonhuman Rights Project and star of the Emmy-nominated documentary Unlocking the Cage); Dr. Terry Kupers (Forensic Psychiatrist/expert on solitary confinement); OSHA attorney Joe Woodward; Rachel Carbary (Founder, "Empty the Tanks") and Carly Ferguson (President, Ontario Captive Animal Watch); Assemblyman Richard Bloom (author of the landmark California Orca Protection Act) and FL State Rep Jared Moskowitz (pushing his own orca protection bill); Stephen Wells (Executive Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund); and, Ric O'Barry (Founder, Dolphin Project and star of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove).


LONG GONE WILD is available now. It was released across all VOD/Digital/DVD platforms on July 16, 2019. It is available to rent or purchase via iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Vimeo, FandangoNOW and numerous other providers.


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