Local teen issues debate challenge to SeaWorld

Clairemont - Almost two months after watching the documentary Blackfish, a film that critically examines dozens of incidents involving orcas and trainers, 13-year-old Max Guinn is posing a unique challenge.

Guinn say it's time for a public debate about orcas and he has this message for SeaWorld - “let’s have a debate with a team from Blackfish and kids will host it.”

While Guinn has been to SeaWorld more than a hundred times, he said watching the documentary Blackfish opened his eyes.

“I was shocked and very sad,” he said.

Guinn is no stranger to feeling passionate about a cause.

Four years ago, he and his mother co-founded Kids Eco Club, which has helped start environmental groups in more than 100 local schools -- reaching 20,000 students.

He said many of those students have talked to him about their own concerns after watching Blackfish.

Guinn created an online petition. It asks, among a series of requests, for SeaWorld to stop keeping orcas in captivity.  Now Guinn has decided to take it a step further.

In front of our cameras, he issued the debate challenge to SeaWorld.

Guinn said because kids are a big reason why families go to SeaWorld, he's proposing a youth-moderated debate between a SeaWorld team and a Blackfish team -- with kids asking live questions. Guinn believes he can get more than 1,000 students to attend and he has secured a venue.

The director of Blackfish has already agreed to the debate.

“I just felt like I had to do something about it, because if nobody does anything it's just going to keep on happening,” said Guinn.

SeaWorld has disputed the conclusions reached in Blackfish.

In a statement, a SeaWorld spokesperson said: "As we responded last week to the filmmaker's debate challenge, we have no interest in helping promote a film this dishonest and manipulative. Our position has not changed."

On Monday, the director of Blackfish -- in San Diego for a screening -- agreed to go to three schools with Guinn to talk about orcas. Guinn said SeaWorld has also been invited.

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