SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby takes on "small minded" arguments of activists

Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:08 AM | Contributed by Jeff

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO CEO Joel Manby said on Monday that its current pool of whales, which can live up to age 50, would stay in its parks for years. "I get frustrated with the small-minded arguments from activists that really don't know what they're talking about," Manby said.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:21 AM
Jeff's avatar

A couple of things here...

In the longer view, after three and a half years have passed since I did my year-long contract there, one of the biggest issues is that they have completely failed to identify and have a public discussion about the right issues. Sure, you can have a debate about whether or not it's morally appropriate to have captive whales. To that I would argue that no one would care about whales in general were it not for SeaWorld and the decades that it has been around. I'd apply that to the broader scope of zoos and aquariums (and the conservation of white rhinos, elephants, various big cat species and a variety of non-attractive animals). But even if the haters are wrong, at least have the discussion, and then show them all of the turtles and manatees and other critters they've saved over the years. It's not insignificant.

The issue of whether or not the animals were mistreated is a completely different discussion, for which there's only one response: Blackfish was bull****. The company arguably has some of the best animal care in the world, likely matched only by Disney at Animal Kingdom. This is in no small part because it's a for-profit company, and not a non-profit constantly begging for money the way most zoos and aquariums operate.

All of that said, Manby has completely failed to identify what SeaWorld is supposed to be, regardless of the outcome of the conversation. That missed opportunity is the obvious one, that SeaWorld could be the corporate champion for treehuggers everywhere. Talking to friends who still work there, they make me see how silly this is. "Don't talk about the whales, but we care about them, so now why do you need to visit our parks?" More seal pups, dolphins with jackets, saved turtles and social awareness. Kids and families love that stuff.

Also: Clean house in ride operations, from the top down. Disney, Universal and many Cedar Fairs set a standard for ops and efficiency that you can't touch, and guests know this.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 8:53 AM
Fun's avatar

How do you shift the conversation to "We're good at caring for animals" when the primary argument is that you shouldn't have animals to begin with?

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 9:52 AM

We just spent the day at a SeaWorld yesterday. We upgraded our tickets to a Fun Card so we can go back tomorrow (instead of LegoLand). We noticed that the staff who speak at the animal exhibits were much more open about rescue efforts and explained some of the typical injuries. Ari was amazing at both the stingray pool and the manatee rehab center. He had props to show how the manatees are injured and how they care for them. Now I know what those jackets are for on the manatees in the intensive care pool. We were impressed. We didn’t see the orca show; once we decided we were coming back a second day we really slowed down and didn’t try to cram everything into one day.

As for the level of care, who else would build a ridiculously elaborate ride/preshow to cool your hot, sweaty family down before you see the penguins to help maintain the proper temperatures and humidity?

Jeff is right; they need to start over in the ride ops department. Mako should be a people eater (get it?!?) and that line crawled. I don’t get the VR coaster craze, ESPECIALLY in Orlando when there is a whole park full of that kind of stuff, and Kraken’s line crawled. I can’t imagine those lines on a busy day.

Oh, and Mako is the best coaster in Orlando and it isn’t even close. I think of it as Fury 200. It’s THAT good.

Last edited by ShaneDenmark, Tuesday, January 9, 2018 10:00 AM

But then again, what do I know?

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 11:00 AM

Jeff said:

Also: Clean house in ride operations, from the top down. Disney, Universal and many Cedar Fairs set a standard for ops and efficiency that you can't touch, and guests know this.

I agree with everything you said. But after my day on Saturday and a decade of disappointment at BGT - this is so crucial.

ShaneDenmark said:

We just spent the day at a SeaWorld yesterday. We upgraded our tickets to a Fun Card so we can go back tomorrow (instead of LegoLand). We noticed that the staff who speak at the animal exhibits were much more open about rescue efforts and explained some of the typical injuries.

Oh, and Mako is the best coaster in Orlando and it isn’t even close. I think of it as Fury 200. It’s THAT good.

We were there on Saturday and had some truly awesome presenters at the manatee area as well. It was so nice to see folks so passionate about what they do and truly proves to me all of the good SeaWorld has done. Even if a few things about Blackfish are partial truths and even if a few things the company did back in the 70s were questionable, the current rescue/rehabilitation program is simply amazing.

As for Mako - I was dissapointed. Maybe it's because it was cold? Or perhaps the hype? But I wasn't wowed by it like I was hoping to be. Then again, this is coming from the guy who thought Intimidator at Carowinds was better than Fury.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 11:06 AM

I’ll be in Orlando the second week of February. One of my goals is to hit Sea World, a park I’ve really enjoyed in the past, with the intent purpose of adding Mako to my list. All this talk makes me nervous, I was hoping for typical February walk-on conditions so I can bust out some rides and have a great day. I’ve done everything there before, except the penguins, but I’m hoping for a day where I don’t pay for admission and only get a ride or two. The week butts up to Presidents Day weekend, so we’ll see.

I also plan a couple of days in Tampa for BGT and the state fair. (Maybe I can put those into one day, but once again, I want value for my money. Neither one is cheap, and a whole day is always better than part of one) My last goal for the week is to get Mine Blower which should be easy provided the weather cooperates. And I’m solo, so my schedule is flexible. Otherwise it’s cheap eats, drinks, and hopefully a little time with warm temps and sunshine. Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 11:22 AM
Jeff's avatar

Fun said:

How do you shift the conversation to "We're good at caring for animals" when the primary argument is that you shouldn't have animals to begin with?

Because that's not the argument the activists are making. They're saying, "You're evil and jerk off whales and deprive them food." You narrow the scope of the debate and if people still think it's immoral to have the animals, you're not going to ever get them as customers anyway. Focus on the people who will come, and make that your selling point. It's not like people stopped going to the parks. Reassure them, champion the things they care about.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:27 PM

And they do a good job of that. It’s easy to pass it off as corporate spin, and Jeff’s right. Hard core activists will always believe what they believe. The correct move is to downplay the circus/entertainment aspect of the business and concentrate on education about animal welfare and safety. If people still want to attend the theme parks, which they do, there’s a way to reassure that segment of the population that the company has and has always had the animals’ welfare in mind.

I live in an agriculture family. Trust and believe that the industry pays attention to what people on both sides say and there’s quite a bit of time and money spent trying to achieve a balance. Sometimes that comes through choice and sometimes it’s through legislation, but I continue to see farmers do better things for the animals, and the welfare activists are frequently satisfied with the results. There’s more to do, but in the end, everyone’s goal is to provide a safe and affordable supply of food to our country.

The theme park’s situation is slightly different. When I see what our nation’s farmers go through to make things right I don’t envy what the entertainment industry faces. It’s an even longer road to hoe, so why bother? I firmly believe the commitment level is honest and I’m always so impressed with the knowledge I acquire from spending a day at one of these wildlife parks.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018 10:41 PM
sws's avatar

"You're evil and jerk off whales..."

Yes, but to be totally fair, who amongst us has not wanted to jerk off a whale... asking for a friend...

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:50 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

I have so many inappropriate responses that would likely get me banned...


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:41 AM

Ya know, those things aren’t as big as you might think.

Heard from a friend...

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018 10:34 AM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Be glad I'm in my 30's, because 10 years ago there would be some 'your momma' jokes flying on this thread.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018 1:05 PM

When I was at BGT Oct 2016, ride ops were really a mixed bag. On some rides (ie. Cheetah Hunt), employees were kicking ass, but on others (ie. Montu), they were dragging around as if being forced to be there, and goofing around talking and laughing while making riders wait. So instead of cleaning house, they just need to get rid of the slackers.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018 6:27 PM

But with that type of behavior occuring at all, it is a higher up position in ride ops that needs to refocus. A few slacker hourly workers operating a coaster won't bring down the entire reputation of the chain when it comes to ride efficiency. It's the overall culture - and that starts higher up.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018 6:42 PM
Jeff's avatar

I can absolutely say it's a problem from the top.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, January 15, 2018 12:35 PM
janfrederick's avatar

The name calling made me think twice about even reading what he had to say.


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018 5:52 AM

They should have gotten on top of it the minute that the film was released, instead of the wait and see what happens attitude. From then on with CNN showing it constantly it was an uphill battle.

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Yesterday, 10:14 AM

On an unrelated note, but still on the topic of Sea World, this one made me laugh

https://www.change.org/p/seaworld-parks-and-entertainment-bring-sea....undefined

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Yesterday, 11:55 AM

I love change.org petitions. It's haughty rhetoric like this that will no doubt help the parties involved see the error of their ways:

"cedar fair is retarded all they had to do was drop the sea world aspect"

Last edited by bigboy, Yesterday, 11:56 AM

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Yesterday, 12:01 PM

“So Sign this petition and let’s make this happen”

um.... okay....

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