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by Paula Bernstein
December 25, 2013 11:22 AM
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Makers of 'The Cove' Respond to SeaWorld's 'Blackfish' Ad: We Don't Buy It


SeaWorld is understandably defensive about "Blackfish," the highly acclaimed documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite that reveals the dangerous truth about the risks involving orcas held captive. The film has prompted various online petitions demanding that the park release its orcas and a variety of musical acts have cancelled their upcoming SeaWorld shows.

As Indiewire reported, SeaWorld took out full page ads in major papers around the country on Friday defending itself against allegations made in the documentary, which has been shortlisted for a best documentary Academy Award.

The ad's first two bullet points counter the arguments made in "Blackfish," but don't actually name the film, saying "SeaWorld does not capture killer whales in the wild." and "We do not separate killer whale moms and calves."  

But the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) -- an organization made up of individuals responsible for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" is circulating a rebuttal to SeaWorld's claims. Below is an excerpt from their letter, which you can read in its entirety here.

SeaWorld is afraid that the truth about captivity is spreading, especially since the release of the film Blackfish. The open letter advertisement placed by SeaWorld is in response to Blackfish, but steers clear of the title for fear of bringing the film further attention. Blackfish has already been seen by over 20 million people, has been shortlisted for an Oscar, and is negatively impacting SeaWorld’s public image and bottom line. Its stock price has dropped as much as 30% since the release of Blackfish, its CEO and institutional investors have dumped tens of millions of shares, eight internationally renowned musical acts have cancelled performances at the park, and the company has resorted to recruiting visitors with Groupon deals to boost failing attendance. 

Public pressure against SeaWorld seems to mount, the question is: will SeaWorld make real changes to the dangerous policies depicted in "Blackfish?" or will this very public battle continue
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  • Kesh | January 26, 2014 4:44 PMReply

    Karen below, you're an idiot. A complete and utter idiot.

  • Karen | December 27, 2013 5:01 AMReply

    Animals freed to what??? Oil spills and poachers that love to kill dolphins for the hell of it?! I'm sure the people that work at Sea World and other places like this are passionate about what they are doing and take a lot of TLC in their animals that entertain. What is the problem? None of us get to see dolphins unless we go to these places and they are beautiful creatures to watch.... What about Zoo's? Are you going to close them down too. We had our Sea World closed down a couple of years ago. Has anyone bothered to check up on what happened to the dolphins and if they are still alive??
    No! Because all you guys were interested in was their freedom and forgot to follow up on them!
    If anything, they were much safer in those environments than out in the wild....

  • Jeb | January 4, 2014 4:07 AM

    Karen, I too am from NZ and you certainly do NOT speak for all New Zealanders with this comment. Have you watched the movie? Its obvious the trainers are passionate about the animals, but the movie is based on ex trainers comming forward and saying it isn't right.

  • Gabe | December 30, 2013 12:07 AM

    Karen obviously you just want to turn a blind eye instead of educating yourself. The United States has some of the most restrictive animal abuse laws. Plus if you did any research at all you would see orcas and dolphins live much shorter lives in captivity then in the wild. So sorry but you can't stick your head in the ground and spout off garbage just because you want to believe it is true.

  • Josh | December 29, 2013 3:06 AM

    Karen the problem isn't the people training the whales being unpassionate, it's that the passionate trainers have ended up dying after being attacked by the whales. All while taking safety precautions and being experienced trainers. While the animals are fun to watch I agree, they are intelligent beings like us and deserve better than being kept in giant cages. Because as a result of their treatment they end up lashing out...it's heartbreaking to watch.

  • Jess | December 27, 2013 10:54 AM

    Karen, have you seen the film? I'm guessing not or you wouldn't have posted this. Please educate yourself before you form an opinion.

  • Karen | December 27, 2013 5:05 AM

    In saying this, I'm only talking about ours in Napier, New Zealand. I do not speak for the rest of the world and I haven't seen the video and choose not to. Places that are abusive, etc, definitely need to close down. But our country tends to have laws in place that protect sea and wild life. Don't put us in the same box as other countries. Cheers.

  • Jason | December 26, 2013 7:42 PMReply

    Does this article really end with the punctuation seven words before the end of the sentence?

  • B | December 26, 2013 9:13 AMReply

    1. I'm sure some sex traffickers have families to feed as well. That doesn't make what they do right.
    2. Yes, circuses, rodeos, etc. should be drastically changed or banned as well. This is a commonly held idea by most people who care about stopping cruelty towards animals. I don't know why you would assume otherwise.

  • Christopher Michael | December 25, 2013 10:12 PMReply

    I have a family member who works at Seaworld. Have any of the protesters stopped to ask what would happen to the humans with families that would be adversely affected if Sea World were to "empty the tanks" and close?
    Also why don't you protest Walt Disney World? At Epcot's the Living Seas they also have marine mammals in captivity. Oh that's right there wasn't a "documentary" about them and you armchair activists looking for the next bandwagon to jump on didn't research that.
    Do you also demand that rodeos and circuses be closed as well? Because thier animals are in much worse situations than any at Sea world.

  • J Hudson | December 29, 2013 11:59 PM

    If your family member who works at Sea World ends up in the jaws of an imprisoned, bored and mistreated orca tomorrow, you'll be singing a whole different tune. Animal rights activists want all animals to have their lives given back to them so that they can live as nature intended. We would stop zoos, circus', rodeos, even the inbreeding of dogs and cats for pets. You state that people are armchair activists jumping on the next bandwagon, and while this may be true for some, it isn't for most animal lovers. It takes the big names and big problems to open people's eyes to what is happening across the nation and around the world. Nothing happens in an instant, it is a drawn out labor of love that invokes change. If we close Sea World first, it will set a precedent and slowly others will follow. You can't say the animals are well cared for; not at all. Putting your child in a closet and feeding them when they're hungry and kissing their forehead every time they cried and asked to be let out would still be child abuse. Ever heard the phrase "if you love something, set it free?"

  • Jimbo | December 27, 2013 2:16 AM

    Yep We demand that they and Rodeos and any other corporate entity to close their doors and stop exploiting animals, for entertainment, so they can make billions of dollars. Yes we demand that Disney is next if they are doing the same. They will all stop, because we won't stop, until the TANKS AND THE RINGS ARE EMPTY! You may want to suggest to your family member to start looking for other work now. That way they won't "lose" their job when we succeed. Or you can listen to the president, If they like their job, they can keep their job, Period!

  • Jstar0279 | December 26, 2013 7:27 AM

    Yes, we have thought about the employees who work at $eaworld. No one is asking $eaworld to shut it's doors. We just want orcas, dolphins, and other cetaceans along with Pinnipeds and penguins freed. $eaworld will still need employees to run the facility for other fish/animals that will remain. They will need employees for rehabilitation, release and care for those in sanctuaries. More people will support $eaworld if they change their business model and start rescuing and releasing. They won't have to shut down! Ball is in their court now, and it's up to them to preserve jobs for people like your family member.

    No one is riding the bandwagon, our eyes were just opened to how things really are! No one is sitting in an "armchair," we are on out feet taking a STAND for something we believe in. I don't have to support every profession if I don't believe in the way they do business just because people are employed there.

    Also I do demand that people not support rodeos, circuses, zoos, etc!! I think all animals be released from jobs like that. I have signed many petitions including the one for Disney to release their marine mammals. And continue to spread the word about all these places via Facebook and twitter. We should always speak out for the animals since they are unable to.

  • amanda | December 26, 2013 4:23 AM

    Exactly. No one said close the doors. Empty the tanks. End captivity. Slightly different. I don't sit in an armchair and I do oppose and petition, end captivity of marine life....any cruelty to humans and animals in general, be it disembowling live horses in Mexico, elephants in captivity, trophy hunting.....genocide, child slavery. Some people don't stand for any of it. Do you? Orca whales are being used to profit SeaWorld and it's a shambles. Performing for food, slavery, poor health, depression existing in a cement chlorine rank. WAKE UP........the list is endless. Get them out of there. It's disgraceful.

  • Samantha Adams | December 25, 2013 10:38 PM

    Absolutely I boycott Circuses and Rodeos! And no one asked that SeaWorld close their doors, what was asked was that they release the orcas that they keep in captivity, used to profit, under false pretense that the animals "thrive" in these conditions.....when in fact like any living creature that is imprisoned, their life span is drastically decreased. Wake up!

  • Brian Greer | December 25, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    What if Sea World decided to go vegan with their park food? More animals are killed to fill meat eaters stomachs than are ever captured or harmed for theme parks. I think that would really turn this fight on its side.

  • Brian Greer | December 26, 2013 6:16 PM

    Notice that I did not say everyone or the entire planet. Not even once. You attempted a strawman argument. The scientific facts are on my side. The livestock industry is more harmful than Sea World. It is ok if you do not care, but it doesn't change the facts.

  • Richard | December 26, 2013 4:33 PM

    If you think every region in the world can be sustained on plants, then it is you who should get educated.

  • Brian Greer | December 26, 2013 4:08 PM

    The livestock industry is unsustainable and is unnecessary for a healthy diet for most of the human population. For the vast majority, it is a choice and not a requirement. Get educated on the issue. It is way more serious than some whales in captivity. You just like to eat animals more than watch them.

  • Richard | December 26, 2013 2:54 AM

    No because entertainment is not a requirement to live.

  • Brian Greer | December 25, 2013 10:19 PM

    So any whales born in captivity, effectively grown to be entertainers, are ok for Sea World to keep?

  • Richard | December 25, 2013 9:34 PM

    Those animals are grown on farms for food, not taken from the wild for human entertainment.

  • dellisse | December 25, 2013 2:57 PMReply

    please stop using dolphins and whales as toys...they don't belong to humans, they belong to the oceans where they have to live free and safe. They are not on earth to live in tiny tanks and making tricks for dead fishes, you speak about preservation but you act only for money!!!

  • Richard Osborne | December 25, 2013 1:27 PMReply

    SeaWorlds ad blatantly contains lies. The certainly have in the past separated Orca mom and calf. It's well documented, independent from Blackfish the movie. If they lie about this, what other lies are they telling? A multi billion dollar company that truly cares for it animals would change its business model and release Orca / Dolphins in to large coves and care for them there and actually promote education (the Orca's could never be fully released, unfortunately.) Nothing is learnt from intelligent animals that perform tricks for food, who live bland tiny tanks. Sea World I do not buy it!

  • PATTY JACKSON | December 25, 2013 12:48 PMReply


  • Theresa Pugh | December 25, 2013 12:34 PMReply

    Empty the tanks. Free Tily before he dies! $eaworld is a money making maching with little or no compassion for the Cetaceans they imprision is concrete tubs. Orcas's are meant to swim free in the ocean, not put on clown shows for our entertainment. Thank you "The Cove" for caring and your awesome letter. Thank you for all your great work in Taiji to stop the brutal Dolphin slaughter. We are Blackfish!!!!!

  • Traci Wilson | December 25, 2013 12:31 PMReply

    Thank you for posting the fact based OPS rebuttal to Seaworlds lie filled ad. We must remember when reading anything having to do with this "battle" that agencies like OPS and individuals involved in this fight to free the amusement park mammals have NOTHING TO GAIN financially...in fact they are/will be losing financially to help these creatures. Seaworld on the other hand feels they will be losing millions if not billions of dollars in doing the right thing. Who do you think will be more inclined to lie and twist the facts to turn the public? Its torture of the innocent to serve greed. Please support the release of these intelligent creatures who need us to help.

  • Teresa Wagner | December 25, 2013 12:03 PMReply

    Thank you for publishing this fact filled rebuttal to SeaWorld's ad which was filled with misinformation and lies. The OPS letter clarifies the truth. I'm curious to see when SeaWorld will give up their arrogance and belief that their dissenters have no power and will go way or give up. We will never give up or go away.

    SeaWorld, it's time to change your business model. Release the whales and dolphins to sea pens, and millions of cetacean lovers and activists will embrace you and help you. But as long as you dig in your heals keep these magnificent beings captive, we will never, ever, ever, ever stop working to educate the public about captivity and to empty your seats. We have a secret weapon that you don't: passion and love. And these are far stronger than greed.