SeaWorld launches campaign to counter recent negative publicity

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

After months of dismissing "Blackfish" as activist propaganda, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. today is launching a more aggressive counterattack on the critical documentary. The Orlando-based theme-park company has placed full-page ads in eight of the country's largest newspapers, making a passionate case for the importance of displaying killer whales in captivity.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel. Read the open letter from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

The documentary comes off as being fairly damning. It's on Netflix if anyone is curious. The crew knows how to play with one's emotions; my reaction immediately after seeing it was "I'll never go near Sea World again."

However, after doing a little bit of research, it's clear to me that the documentary fudges some of the facts as well. For example, one of the main points they try to make is that orcas have similar lifespans of humans but only live for 30 years in captivity. While there are records of orcas living for 90+ years, their average lifespan is indeed 30-50 years depending on gender (source).

I don't buy that Sea World is a haven for animals, but it's also apparent that the documentary isn't always truthful either. As with most circumstances surrounding zoos and aquariums, it's kind of a gray area.

rollergator's avatar

Here's a game based on "Where's Waldo." It's a picture of the protest at SWO today. Find the protesters among the *sea* of vehicles pouring into the park.

I've noticed a definite rash of "support" Sea World posts on Social media from friends in the industry. These appear to be VERY organized and directed in my opinion. (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Jeff's avatar

I noticed this unofficial response from a former employee on Facebook. Loved it.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

bjames's avatar

As a person who views himself to be relatively well connected to the country via internet, I really do not think this film has made a significant impact.But it might just be me hallucinating my own position....

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

rollergator's avatar

Thanks for posting that, Jeff.

kpjb's avatar

It's a very good post, however I wish she would have done a grammar and spelling check before throwing it out there. The message is right on, though.


janfrederick's avatar

The formal employee put it better than the Sea World response (bad grammar and all).

"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

Did they make her wear a tux? :)

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

I watched Blackfish, and see both sides. That facebook post you linked Jeff is a good counter argument. I think there is a need for Sea World, and if we weren't entertained by them where would the money for research come from? I think Sea World parks do a lot of good to help animals.

Interesting dust-up at Apparently a free-lancer wrote a piece somewhat praising Blackfish (not the film's message per se, but its low cost and ability to adversely affect the company in a big way)

Private equity group Blackstone owns a big piece of Forbes, and also, Sea World, so you can imagine what came next.

Here's the summary as written by the original author.

Vater's avatar

Am I the only one who sees an apples to kumquats comparison when people bring up the fact that there have been hundreds of incidents of "orcas attempting to harm their handlers" when in captivity versus the handful of similar incidents reported in open water?

Jeff's avatar

I can't believe he said "devoid of sensationalism" without a winky or something. Maybe they could have let it run with a winky.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

We watched it. The wife was taken in by it. I thought it was well done with the exception of some of the people interviewed. I found it humorous that the tough guy interviewed as an Orca captor was able to cook up some tears after realizing what he had done decades earlier.

There's no doubt that we don't fully understand Orcas. We also don't fully understand dogs, cats, snakes, rats, etc. All of which haven been taken out of their natural habitat and kept in a space smaller than they were originally intended, separated from their families, and sold for money. So, if you feel so strongly that the Orcas shouldn't be subjected to it, then don't own a pet.

With that in mind, anyone in their right mind that wants to crawl into a tank with a 6000 - 12000 pound mammal to ride around on it, by all means do it. Understand there are risks involved. I was somewhat dumbfounded when the former trainers had the reaction portrayed after finding out about the trainer that was killed. Again, it's a 12000 pound mammal. What did you expect to happen? The same risks are implied when owning a pet. They bite and act out at what seems to be completely random to us.

I still have some respect for Sea World because we are given an opportunity to see what is out there in the ocean, without having to get in a boat, put on scuba gear, and search around until we find just one of the many types of animals on display.

Take that for what its worth.


rollergator's avatar

Doesn't "attempting to harm handlers" presume knowledge of intent on the part of the Orca? I'm still of the opinion that an Orca "playing" with a human can have fatal consequences for the human without the slightest bit of ill intent on the part of the Orca....but I don't presume to be able to read their minds.

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

I guess that was my point. An Orca playing with a human is pretty much the same as my two-year old playing with our hamsters. Thankfully we haven't had any fatal incidents (with the hamsters that is).


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