SeaWorld Calls Blackfish Petitions "Digital Harassment" in Statement Over Artist Cancellations

Classic rock artists and country music acts have been bailing on SeaWorld's Bands, Brew & Barbecue music fest left and right ever since several Change.org petitions were launched in response to the documentary, Blackfish.

And now, the park has finally issued a statement about the petitions and cancellations, calling the whole thing "a campaign of digital harassment," while insisting that those who put together the petition, and the artists who are fleeing the festival, are not representative of the rest of the population, who are still coming to the park in droves to watch killer whales rock out to hits of the 80s -- just like they do in the wild!

SeaWorld sent the statement to CBS News.

"This is a coordinated campaign of digital harassment and does not in any sense represent the opinions of the American public," the statement reads. "A far better measure is the number of people actually coming to SeaWorld."

Tourists are still coming to the park? Sick burn, bros.

But that's kind of the whole idea behind the petitions (or, any petition, really).

Get a musical act that will attract thousands of their fans to cancel their show in order to bring awareness. And, so far, more people are becoming aware of Blackfish thanks to these artists taking to social media and announcing their reasons for cancelling a performance.

And acts are dropping out left and right.

It started with the Barenaked Ladies, followed by Willie Nelson, and then Heart. REO Speedwagon has reportedly also cancelled on SeaWorld, while country music artist Martina McBride took to her Facebook page to announce her cancellation:

Even acts who aren't scheduled to be a part of the festival are expressing their disdain, such as Joan Jett, who demanded that SeaWorld stop playing her hit "I Love Rock 'n Roll" during their killer whale shows.

The backlash and the ensuing Change.org petitions came after CNN aired Blackfish, which exposes the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity and interviews former SeaWorld trainers who speak of their regret over harming the animals.

In all, there are nine separate petitions totalling more than 56,000 signatures.

Last month, Animal Rights Florida members held a protest outside of SeaWorld Orlando.

The documentary also inspired a 12-year-old girl to crash the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and stage a solo protest of the SeaWorld float as she chanted "Boycott SeaWorld" and waved around a sign.

Before this recent "digital harassment" statement, SeaWorld had been saying that they respect the artists' decision to cancel but expressed disappointment that they would be influenced to do so by "animal extremist groups."

"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," an earlier statement said.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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