The 5 Dumbest Things SeaWorld Has Done In Response To "Blackfish" (So Far)
1) Manipulated a public opinion poll.
Last December, the Orlando Business Journal published an online poll to determine whether or not "Blackfish" had altered Orlando residents' perception of SeaWorld. When the results came in, they seemed overwhelmingly favorable to the theme park -- until a simple look at responders' IP addresses revealed that the incredible positivity came from a single computer network ... at SeaWorld.
2) Celebrated orca families -- with a campaign featuring separated orca families.
This past January, SeaWorld's Twitter account posted a photo and caption intended to celebrate orca families, claiming that "Everything [they] do in the care of whales is centered on the mother-calf bond." But, as a former SeaWorld trainer and "Blackfish" research assistant confirmed, the mother and calf featured in the ad had in fact been separated, with the mother in Texas and the calf in Spain.
3) Tried (and failed) to curry public favor by bringing penguins to a NYC bar.
This past January, in an effort to draw some positive media attention, SeaWorld planned a 50th anniversary celebration in New York City featuring two live penguins from one of its parks. The plan backfired, and SeaWorld was forced to cancel the event amidst public backlash from animal welfare organizations.
4) Bought a full-page newspaper ad -- in which they contradicted themselves.
This past December, SeaWorld took out a full-page ad in major national newspapers attempting to repudiate claims made in "Blackfish." But, as CNN pointed out, SeaWorld contradicted itself in the ad. SeaWorld claimed that it does not separate mother orcas from their calves, but went on one sentence later to acknowledge that it does separate mothers from calves on "rare occasions." Additionally, SeaWorld asserted in the ad that the lifespans of captive and non-captive orcas are the same, contradicting what it says on its website -- that "no one knows for sure how long killer whales live."
5) Relied on their largest investor to help them save face. Instead, he publicly blamed orca trainer for her own death.
In an interview with CNBC this past January, Stephen Schwarzman -- CEO of Blackstone, SeaWorld's primary shareholder at the time -- said that orca trainer Dawn Brancheau "violated all the safety rules" SeaWorld had in place at the time of her death. Facing intense backlash, SeaWorld was immediately forced to distance itself from Schwarzman's comments.
Photos via Orlando Business Journal; SeaWorld; SeaWorld; WFTV; The Guardian, respectively.
SeaWorld and marine parks profit off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity -- despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers. Join us in pledging never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks until they empty their orca tanks.