Oh, SeaWorld, SeaWorld, how you keep disappointing us.
But, perhaps this is to be expected as SeaWorld steadfastly continues on its route of marine animal exploitation despite the screenings and subsequent Netflix release of “Blackfish” and scathing open letters, like that from the Oceanic Preservation Society, in response to SeaWorld’s statement that claimed, among other things, that the park does not separate whale mothers and calves and that its care of killer whales “benefit” ones in the wild.
Now, to no one’s surprise, SeaWorld is on to new games.
As many have heard, the marine park recently fudged an online poll in the Orlando Business Journal that asked readers, “Has CNN”s ‘Blackfish’ documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?”
Initially, the journal was surprised by the responses, with nearly 99 percent of respondents siding with SeaWorld.
Suspecting something fishy, they noticed that one IP address contributed to over 54 percent of the “no” votes, or about 180 of the initial 323 votes. And yep – that IP address came straight from SeaWorld.
In response to these findings, SeaWorld released a statement via spokesperson Nick Gollattscheck:
Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company, and we encourage them to make their opinions known.
We have three parks and our corporate offices in Orlando. You would expect that we would have a lot of team members in Orlando — and throughout our company — who would vote. If a poll goes up regarding SeaWorld, our team members have as much a right to vote as anyone else, and vote they did. We don’t have a “bot” — each of those votes that came from SeaWorld were cast by a team member who is passionate about who we are and what we do.
It’s true – SeaWorld’s team members have a right to cast their votes along with the rest of the world, but the 180 “no” votes still feels well, a bit wrong, as if it was actually orchestrated instead of multiple single acts of individual will.
But, poll aside (which now has 82 percent “yes” votes), SeaWorld’s more significant disappointment comes as its decision to start up a new “whale interaction experience” called Shamu Up Close.
The program, which launches tomorrow, January 7, will be filling in for the marine park’s famous “One Ocean” show, which is going on hiatus until April.
Originally, it seemed as if SeaWorld’s orcas would be given a break this year, but unfortunately, this is not quite the case any longer.
According to SeaWorld Orlando’s website, Shamu Up Close will “celebrate the beauty and wonder of killer whales” and show “an intimate and moving look at the whales, trainers and the awe-inspiring bond between them.”
What this “intimate and moving look” will showcase remains to be seen but the Orlando Sentinel does note that guests will “be able to walk through the area, with a behind-the-scenes feel, constantly throughout the day” and that trainers “will have a variety of demonstrations hourly.”
This new show is really SeaWorld’s attempt to give their “side of the story,” to somehow illustrate that nothing unethical is going on behind its walls.
But how can anyone get a true look at the “beauty and wonder of killer whales” when they’re cooped up in concrete pools, unable to perform their natural behaviors, and then forced instead to act out stunts for people? How could this ever be considered beautiful and wondrous?
Image source: Brett Reints / Flickr