Manchester Educator Wins PETA Award For Teaching Kids That Orcas Should Be Free

For Immediate Release:

15 November 2013


Ben Williamson 020 7837 6327, ext 229; [email protected]

Manchester – It’s won plaudits from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Leona Lewis and Stephen Fry, and now 2013’s must-see documentary, Blackfish – which tells the story of Tilikum, an orca held captive at SeaWorld, which will be shown on BBC Four next Thursday – has even more fans: Lee Parkinson‘s Year 5 class at Davyhulme Primary School in Manchester, which has been writing and narrating stories and creating adorable videos about the cruelty of keeping orcas in captivity. For his efforts, Parkinson has received PETA’s Compassionate Teacher Award.

“Mr Parkinson is a hero to animals and children because he’s fostering kids’ natural compassion for others, which will be a vital part of them for the rest of their lives”, says PETA’s Yvonne Taylor. “PETA urges all prospective visitors to marine-mammal parks to watch Blackfish and see for themselves the barbarity of capture and the misery of captivity for these once free-living animals.”

In a blog post, Mr Parkinson made it clear that Blackfish (rated 15) would not be suitable to show to his Year 5 class. Nevertheless, the children’s own videos and stories, which were inspired by the documentary theme, perfectly demonstrate the cruelty of confining intelligent, sensitive marine mammals to tiny concrete tanks and depriving them of all that’s natural and important to them. In their natural habitat, orcas live in close family units and swim as far as 100 miles every day. At marine parks such as SeaWorld, they are ripped from their homes in the wild; forced to live in barren tanks, where they swim in endless circles; and forced to perform tricks in exchange for dead fish to eat.

A current trend would seem to be on the side of Parkinson and his students: According to a poll conducted by CNN, which aired Blackfish in the US, 86 per cent of people now refuse to take their children to SeaWorld.

Photos of Parkinson and his Year 5 class can be found here, here and here. For more information, please visit