In case you haven’t heard, CNN’s documentary Blackfish uncovers atrocious treatment of the orcas at SeaWorld. I can’t even describe what you’ll see and what was uncovered. The film focuses around the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by an orca named Tilikum and what happened. These animals have suffered so much and the documentary digs deep to describe the horrors of what is going on. It is extremely emotional. It is available for viewing online, DVD, digital download and on Netflix.
There have been very few statements put out about the documentary from SeaWorld and all requests for SeaWorld’s “side of the story” have been consistently declined, rejected and ignored. They don’t have any answers or any reasons or any real responses. No kind of apology has been released at all.
They are ignoring the situation and not addressing anything. This is the worst PR strategy I’ve seen since the BP oil spill when they lied about the oil not spilling into the ocean when they had “solved the problem.” Ignoring the problem never makes it go away.
I commented on one of their Facebook posts and was banned from the page within a day. They delete all negative comments and ban anyone who mentions Blackfish on their page. I watched as any posts mentioning their mishandling of the situation or anything to do with Blackfish were deleted within about 20 minutes on the page, disappearing and hiding the truth.
They are literally lying about everything and are in extreme denial. Last month, they posted financial results for the summer quarter saying attendance fell 3.6% year-over-year. Blackfish was never mentioned in its earnings release or earnings conference call. SeaWorld blamed the decline on rain and higher admission prices. Bad weather is a popular scapegoat in the amusement park industry, according to Daily Finance.
Over eight artists, like Willie Nelson, Heart, Martina McBride, Barenaked Ladies and others, have canceled because of the film and fans asking them to cancel. Joan Jett has requested her anthem “I Love Rock & Roll” stop being used in the park’s flagship “Shamu Rocks” show. SeaWorld statement in response to petitions for artists and bands to withdraw their performances at the SeaWorld venue:
“This is a coordinated campaign of digital harassment and does not in any sense represent the opinions of the American public. A far better measure is the number of people actually coming to SeaWorld. “
SeaWorld spokesperson Nick Gollattscheck emailed TIME a statement saying:
“While we’re disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld by Heart, Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson, we respect the bands’ decisions. The bands and artists have a standing invitation to visit any of our parks to see firsthand or to speak to any of our animal experts to learn for themselves how we care for animals and how little truth there is to the allegations made by animal extremist groups opposed to the zoological display of marine mammals. “
Another lie: SeaWorld initially said Willie Nelson canceled his show because of “scheduling conflicts. Nelson revealed the real reason:
“I don’t agree with the way they treat their animals. … What they do at SeaWorld is not OK,” Willie Nelson said in an interview with CNN.
David Kirby, author of the book “Death at SeaWorld,” said:
“I think the ripple effect is even greater. Only so many people are going to see a documentary or read a book. But everybody knows who Willie Nelson is.”
I encourage you to talk to your friends and family about this film, watch it yourself and draw your own conclusions. Overall, I’m extremely disappointed with SeaWorld, how cruel they are to the animals and how this situation reflects on the PR industry. We don’t have a great rep in PR and situations like this only make it worse.
Never in the world does it help to lie, deny and ignore. The problem will continue and it will only get worse. I don’t know how SeaWorld will get out of this, but they will never get my business again.
I am NOT a small, misinformed individual. I WILL stand up to things like this.