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SeaWorld Swarmed by Protesters Sunday After Blackfish Backlash

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Just two days after SeaWorld took out a full-page ad in several prominent U.S. newspapers to try to quell the damage being done over the Blackfish backlash, a string of activists showed up to the park in Orlando to protest outside its gates.

Guests driving into the park were met with people holding signs that read "Thanks but no tanks" and a few that read "Free Tilly," which is a reference to Tilikum, the SeaWorld killer whale that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

"We hope SeaWorld will realize what they're doing is wrong," one protester told WFTV. "Having large animals like this in captivity is torture and slavery and that there's other ways they can keep their theme park going."

See also: SeaWorld Places Full-Page Ad to Combat Blackfish Backlash

SeaWorld has been fighting back with an all-out PR campaign designed to combat the recent allegations brought on it by the documentary, which has brought a worldwide backlash against 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 backlash and the ensuing Change.org petitions asking the acts to cancel on the park came after Blackfish exposed the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity.

In all, there are nine separate petitions totaling 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.

Among Sunday's protesters was an orange Ferrari that drove around with a "Free Tilikum" message strewn across the front.

Following the protests on Sunday, SeaWorld deployed spokesman Nick Gollattscheck for some damage control.

"There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental, and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld," Gollattscheck said. "The real advocates for animals are the trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff, and veterinarians at SeaWorld and the millions of fans and guests who learn about marine life through our parks."

More anti-SeaWorld petitions have begun to crop up, including one asking Toys R Us to take the SeaWorld Barbie off its shelves.

And there's currently a #SeaWorldsucks hashtag floating around the Twittersphere.

Just a few days ago, the official Miami Dolphins Twitter tweeted out a preview of the team's matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The tweet was sponsored by SeaWorld.

The Dolphins lost 19-0.

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

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