Just last week, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. filed a complaint with the Labor Department, claiming that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigator, Lara A. Padgett, had “inappropriate ties to animal rights activists and may have leaked confidential information” to “Blackfish” filmmakers, as Yahoo Finance reports.
SeaWorld’s six-page complaint, paired with 200 pages of documentation, also contains a request to remove Padgett from monitoring its parks while the Labor Department reviews her conduct.
So why is SeaWorld going after Padgett? Well, because of her direct connection to the case that examined trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death, which was explored in “Blackfish.”
Padgett was the investigator on the Brancheau’s case and because of her review, interaction between SeaWorld trainers and orcas became “severely limited.”
SeaWorld continues to fight this particular case, and has submitted an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.
According to the New York Times, SeaWorld claims that Padgett “provided confidential documents from the [case’s] safety review and a subsequent mediation to one of the film’s producers.”
However, “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite told the NY Times in a phone interview that she had never received any confidential documents from Padgett and “was unaware of any transfer of such material to anyone connected with the film.”
While Padgett has expressed support for “Blackfish” via social media, her official emails, which were included in SeaWorld’s documentation, appear to take an “objective approach” to SeaWorld’s review, as reported by the NY Times.
This story is still developing, and we’ll all have to wait and see if the Labor Department takes SeaWorld’s request seriously. It’s funny though, how SeaWorld wants their views taken into consideration, yet refuses to offer the same courtesy others.
Back in January of this year, SeaWorld wimped out of a public debate challenge initiated by the Oceanic Preservation Society (the group behind “The Cove”) and “Blackfish” team members. Not long after at the start of February, SeaWorld shut down PETA’s request to discuss opening coastal sanctuaries for the company’s orcas (PETA is a shareholder, and should have the right to be heard by the company).
Based on SeaWorld’s past actions and new attempt to counter bad publicity, it seems like the marine park giant is seriously scared, and it should be: people are finally realizing the cruelty behind captivity and are getting fed up with companies exploiting animals for the sake of profit.
Instead of putting up such a big show, SeaWorld could actually acknowledge what it’s done wrong and then change for the better. But, looks like SeaWorld isn’t interested in that. Sigh. Guess that give us animal lovers and advocates no choice but to keep the pressure on until SeaWorld and other marine parks go out of the captivity business.
We’re ready for the long haul, SeaWorld, and we’re not going anywhere. We don’t scare so easily.
Image source: Britt Reints / Flickr