Kimberly Ventre, an advertising professional and sister of former SeaWorld trainer Dr. Jeff Ventre, has written a captivating open letter to Southwest Airlines, advising them to get out of their relationship with SeaWorld. Written like a true marketing professional, the letter frames the professional partnership as an abusive relationship that the better half needs to walk away from.
Dr. Ventre, one of the former trainers featured in the 2013 documentary Blackfish, worked at SeaWorld from 1987 to 1995, and has long stood against orca captivity after viewing their poor treatment firsthand, and how their suffering leads to bizarre behavior and violence. Kimberly has joined him in his efforts, regularly tweeting against SeaWorld and respectfully attempting to engage Southwest in a discussion about their involvement with the marine park. The airline has politely refused her offers to converse.
Despite petitions, boycotts, and celebrity campaigns against SeaWorld, Southwest continues to promote the park and defend their partnership, claiming that it’s “based on travel and bringing families together.”
In her new letter, Kimberly praises Southwest’s many virtues outside of its relationship with SeaWorld, but suggests that these things are overshadowed by the park’s growing bad publicity. She has been loyal to Southwest and would love to continue using them, but they need to break up with their “abusive” partner.
Despite their recent 50th anniversary celebration, this has not been a good year for SeaWorld’s reputation. Blackfish has drawn greater attention to the plight of captive orcas. Stockholders have been selling, park attendance has plummeted and performers have been cancelling shows at the park like never before. As if things couldn’t get any worse, new documents were uncovered earlier this year proving that SeaWorld feeds their orcas anti-anxiety drugs to curb the stereotypical behaviors they display in response to being held in captivity. And yet, as Kimberly points out, Southwest continues to stand by their side.
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