For the past two years, SeaWorld has been on the defensive following the groundbreaking documentary Blackfish. In an attempt to mend their injured reputation, SeaWorld has taken to releasing videos designed to reinforce just how much they “care” for their animals and revealed plans to redesign the killer whale exhibits with the first available for public display at their San Diego park in 2018.
SeaWorld has been reluctant to acknowledge the mounting evidence confirming the devastating impact captivity can have on such sentient beings, firing back at criticism with expensive PR campaigns and evasive tactics.
Their refusal to acknowledge the public’s concern for the well-being of animals at SeaWorld only further proves that they will continue to abuse and exploit animals as long as there is a profit to be made. But by ignoring the heart of the problem and continuing on “business as usual,” SeaWorld may just be putting the final nails in their own grave.
Since the release of the documentary Blackfish, we’ve seen the true impact of the “Blackfish effect.”
Here are 12 of the worst things to happen to SeaWorld since the documentary’s release:
1. SeaWorld Misquotes Dr. Ingrid Visser’s Research … and Then Uses it as a Defense to Her Question on Twitter
Last year, Dr. Ingrid Visser challenged SeaWorld after they blatantly manipulated and misused her research on dorsal fin abnormalities.
In April, SeaWorld responded to a tweet from Dr. Ingrid Visser by citing a page that mentioned Visser’s own data, the very data SeaWorld has yet to publicly acknowledge they’re misusing. If SeaWorld was so concerned with the questions being asked on their “Ask SeaWorld” Twitter campaign, perhaps they should look at who they’re responding to. Talk about putting your foot in your mouth.
2. Barbie Drops SeaWorld
In April, Mattel confirmed it would no longer continue making the SeaWorld trainer Barbie. Reps for Mattel did not specify why the contract with SeaWorld would not be extended, but we can only imagine the negative press surrounding marine mammal captivity had something to do with it.
3. Major Airline End SeaWorld Deals
In October of 2014, Virgin America Inc. announced it would be dropping SeaWorld from its frequent flier program. This news came hot on the heels of Southwest Airlines and British Airways both ending their partnerships with SeaWorld.
4. Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against SeaWorld
Three class action lawsuits have been filed against SeaWorld for manipulating their customers into believing the animals in their care are thriving mentally and physically. While it’s likely these cases may be dropped, lawsuits like these continue to reinforce that the public does not condone marine mammal captivity.
5. OSHA Cites SeaWorld. Again.
SeaWorld was cited by OSHA (yet again) in April for failing to properly train their employees—specifically for how to safely interact with the killer whales.
6. SeaWorld Tries to Make a Point and Fails
After the documentary Blackfish called into question SeaWorld’s method of removing killer whale calves from their mothers, SeaWorld’s gone to great lengths to prove to the public that they recognize how important that bond is. In 2014, SeaWorld published a photo of a mother and a calf stating “SeaWorld recognizes the important bond between mother and calf.”
The worst part? The mother and calf pictured in the ad are, in fact, separated.
7. The ‘Ask SeaWorld’ Twitter Campaign Becomes a Laughing Stock
We aren’t really sure what SeaWorld’s PR team was expecting to happen when they consulted the Twitterverse to ask questions regarding the welfare of their animals. After they refused to acknowledge many of the legitimate questions raised by individuals concerned over the welfare of the animals and blocked a number of Twitter users including Leilani Munter, they insisted people stop harassing their account and ask “the right questions.”
8. SeaWorld Stocks and Attendance Plummet
We can’t say we’re surprised, but attendance and revenue have been at an all time low for SeaWorld. Blackstone Holdings, a key shareholder, recently sold 19,500,000 shares of their holdings in the company, and attendance has drop by over 13 percent.
9. SeaWorld Shareholders File Lawsuit
SeaWorld shareholders claim Jim Atchison mislead them regarding the impact the documentary Blackfish had on the parks revenue and attendance. The lawsuit also alleges SeaWorld failed to divulge they had continued to breed a killer whale (Tilikum) that was responsible for numerous deaths.
11. Musicians Cancel SeaWorld Performances
SeaWorld is notorious for large and loud performances (we’re sure the whales love it.) After the release of Blackfish, a number of celebrities and musicians came forward expressing their concern. Most notably, Willie Nelson, Pat Benatar, Heart and Mike Love of the Beach boys a few of the musicians that canceled their SeaWorld performances amid the backlash.
12. KIDS Petition to Cancel Class Trips
In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of young activists coming forward petitioning class trips to SeaWorld. Another student even petitioned to stop his school from having their prom at SeaWorld.
An End in Sight
The impact that Blackfish and the many activists and concerned citizens have made in the past three years alone is undeniable. Armed with knowledge and steely reserve, these people are making a real difference for the world’s captive marine animals. As the ripple effect continues to multiply, we can only expect to see SeaWorld experience more unfortunate events (although we can’t say we feel bad for them!). The fact is that people are no longer amused by injustice or abuse and in taking a stand, they give us hope that there will be a day when marine parks like SeaWorld simply cease to exist.
Lead image source: Don Richards/Facebook