SeaWorld Ripped by Filmmakers in Open Letter
flickr CC / Stig Nygaard
In an effort to quell the negative backlash from Blackfish, last Friday SeaWorld took out a full-page ad in major U.S. papers, including the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, in an all-out PR campaign designed to combat the allegations brought on it by the documentary.
But now the Oceanic Preservation Society, the filmmakers behind the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove, have put out a response letter to SeaWorld, basically taking a proverbial bazooka to the face of what the theme park wrote in its ad.
The SeaWorld ad is made up of mostly bullet points combating the Blackfish accusations, such as separating killer whale mothers from their calves and calling itself a leader in animal rescue.
SeaWorld also boasts of its "$70 million killer whale habitats and millions of dollars annually in support of these facilities" in the ad.
The ad goes on to say that guests who visit SeaWorld leave it being more educated about ocean life than they would have otherwise been before walking through their gates. Because, as anyone who has ever seen a NatGeo program about orcas in the wild knows, those killer whales LOVE to wave "hello" with their fins and balance people on their noses for fish.
The OPS letter comes out of the gate strong, calling SeaWorld's ad a "series of mistruths about the quality of life of the animals in its care."
OPS says that while SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales in the wild, it does manage to go about it with some back-door shenanigans, such as having other people capture the animals for the facility.
The letter also reiterates the point that SeaWorld routinely separates orca families in order to accommodate its performances.
"These families are broken up purely for business purposes," the letter says. "Despite the strong and enduring bonds shared by pod members."
The OPS letter also reminds readers that SeaWorld forces orcas -- an animal that travels around 60 miles a day in a straight line in the wild -- to live in small tanks where they're forced to swim in circles all their lives.
The letter then blasts SeaWorld's claim that it is a state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar research center.
"Orca captivity is not a prerequisite to conducting scientific research," the letter says. "In fact, the captive environment often yields artificial results."
There's no telling how SeaWorld will respond to this letter other than to keep bombarding the public with more ads about its facilities.
After all, people buying baby whale plush toys by the shitload is what's at stake here! Even if the whale the toys were modeled after was ripped away from its mother and brother.
The OPS letter, much like the films The Cove and Blackfish (two movies you really need to watch if you haven't already), rips off the artificial veneer of happy whales and dolphins rockin' out to the hits of the '80s and exposes the truth behind what SeaWorld seems to really be about: bringing more people into its parks.
Because a two-day pass at SeaWorld is just $92 per person. What a bargain! And don't forget, a portion of that goes to help pay for capturing Beluga whales in Russia and keeping the water inside the tiny tank clean for Shamu to swim in!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.