SeaWorld is doing just about anything to win back public support these days since the “Blackfish” effect has taken hold. The entertainment giant has begun an aggressive PR campaign with an open letter from SeaWorld “animal advocates,” videos denouncing the 2013 documentary, and even ramped up a new orca show in Orlando called “Shamu Up Close,” which supposedly provides visitors a peek into the “awe-inspiring bond” between its whales and trainers.
Now, SeaWorld is looking to take back its younger, more impressionable audiences by bringing on Steve Irwin’s daughter, Bindi, onto their promotional team.
On Tuesday, March 6, Bindi Irwin announced her partnership with SeaWorld on Good Morning America (GMA), stating that she will be joining SeaWorld’s new initiative, “Generation Nature.”
Bindi told GMA that the program is “all about encouraging kids to get involved to be game changers for wildlife in wild places.”
Naturally, her announcement struck a chord with animal lovers and advocates. Not long after her GMA appearance, social media channels blew up with responses calling on Bindi to revoke her support for SeaWorld.
PETA stated, “By supporting @SeaWorld @ BindiIrwin directly supports cruelty seen in #Blackfish.”
Stephanie Wireman, on-shore volunteer for Sea Shepherd and Blackfish Brigade co-founder tweeted, “@BindiIrwin You have a voice and choice! Please use them to fight captivity, NOT endorse it! #Blackfish.”
Even Bindi’s grandfather, Bob Irwin, who left the family’s Australia Zoo in 2008, has added his voice to the debate, issuing a statement this weekend on his foundation’s website and solidifying his position against captivity.
“My personal stance is that any organisation that keeps animals in captivity that does not consider and provide for that animal’s physical, mental and emotional needs should not be keeping that animal and other solutions should be sought out,” he stated.
“The Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation Inc. and I do not support the use of captive animals for the performance of tricks with the intent of mere entertainment for financial gain,” Irwin continued.
How wonderful it is to see Irwin taking a public stance on this issue! Hopefully, his granddaughter will soon see that her decision to partner with SeaWorld is in fact counterproductive to animal protection since education through captivity only enforces the old idea that holding wild animals captive is somehow okay so long as we call it “conservation.”
While Bindi’s participation in SeaWorld’s new program seems backwards, Capt. Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society provides us with a different way to look at it: “Bindi … working with SeaWorld once again brought the controversy over SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas to international attention and has helped to keep public attention on the issue of captive cetaceans.”
Capt. Watson is not offering support for Bindi’s decision, however he does touch on a key point: that SeaWorld has finally been exposed for what it really is and people are not letting that go.
Maybe Bindi will decide to revoke her support of SeaWorld, or maybe she won’t. Either way, the most important thing for us to do is keep the pressure and focus on SeaWorld as they should bear the most scrutiny.
If you would like to encourage Bindi to step down from her new role with SeaWorld, consider signing the following petitions:
- Bindi Irwin: Please Step Down as SeaWorld Ambassador
- Bindi Irwin’s now an Ambassador for $ea World. Bindi should be helping all creatures and speaking up for them
- Bindi Irwin: Please do not collaborate with SeaWorld as an ambassador
Image source: Good Morning America / Twitter