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Former SeaWorld Trainer: 'They Care About The Animals As Much As They Care About The Dollar Signs'

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Since the release of "Blackfish" -- a highly controversial documentary that largely scrutinizes SeaWorld's orca management -- the marine park has faced tremendous backlash from conservationists, tourists and even some celebrities. "Blackfish" associate producer Tim Zimmermann and former SeaWorld trainer Kim Ashdown recently spoke with HuffPost Live to expand on some of the marine park's alleged injustices presented in the documentary.

Ashdown, a trainer for SeaWorld for 12 years, told HuffPost Live about some of her experiences with SeaWorld management giving employees false information. "They have this whole artillery of answers that they provide you that back all of the PR that they want you to believe," she said. For example, Ashdown recounted times when management required a sick whale to perform in shows, claiming "if we treat her as if she is sick, then she will start acting sick" -- even if she was not eating or socializing with other whales.

On the other hand, Zimmermann elaborated on SeaWorld's profitability from the killer whales, noting that they're "central" to their operations. He also estimated that even though SeaWorld does a fair bit of marine mammal rehabilitation, they only spend about "0.0006 percent" of their profit on rescues and rehabilitation -- and some of those rescues turn into performers. "If the argument is 'well we do some good stuff, so it's okay if we do some bad stuff,' that's not a very good argument to make," he told HuffPost Live.

Be sure to also check out HuffPost Live's interview with "Blackfish's" director from this past summer.

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