After calling the several petitions launched through Change.org "digital harassment" following the controversy of the documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld is now putting the full-court press on its critics.
The Orlando-based theme park has placed a full-page ad in several newspapers across the country, including the Friday editions of the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
SeaWorld is fighting back in an all-out PR campaign designed to combat the recent allegations brought on it by the documentary Blackfish, which has brought a worldwide backlash onto the park. Most notably, a handful of headlining performers, from the Barenaked Ladies to Willie Nelson to Trisha Yearwood, has canceled shows at the park's annual Bands, Brew & Barbecue music fest.
The full-page spread doesn't mention Blackfish by name but calls the controversy "inaccurate reports."
The letter is made up of mostly bullet points combating the accusations, such as separating killer whale mothers from their calves and calling itself a leader in animal rescue.
SeaWorld also boasts of the "$70 million in our killer whale habitats and millions of dollars annually in support of these facilities" in the past three years.
The letter 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.
The truth about SeaWorld is right here in our parks and people. Our guests may enter our gates having never given much thought to the remarkable animals in our oceans. When they leave with a greater appreciation for the importance of the sea, educated about the animals that live there and inspired to make a difference, we have done our job.
SeaWorld is not saying how much it spent on the full-page ad, but it did say it's now planning an online campaign as well.
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 totaling more than 56,000 signatures.
This was then followed with a cancellation by the Barenaked Ladies, which began an avalanche of cancellations, by Willie Nelson, Heart, REO Speedwagon, Martina McBride, and Trisha Yearwood.
The rash of cancellations and the backlash following the documentary has brought unwanted international attention to SeaWorld.
An ad on a Friday in newspapers is apparently the best way to combat this.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.