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Newspaper Poll Shows 99% of People's Perceptions of SeaWorld Unaffected by 'Blackfish'

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | January 3, 2014 | Comments ()


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Almost anyone you ask who has seen CNN’s documentary Blackfish (which is streaming on Netflix now), will tell you that, since viewing it, they have vowed to never go to SeaWorld. In fact, many people who haven’t seen the documentary, but who have heard about it from friends, have also vowed not to go to SeaWorld. Why? Because the chilling video and oral testimonies from the film demonstrate how inhumane it is for the whales — and the trainers — to keep them in captivity. From the howling of the mother whales who lose their babies to captivity, to the mental distress of the captive whales, to the mutilation and killing of a SeaWorld trainer, there is no good reason to hold whales in captivity except that they bring slavering tourist with their wallets wide open and their brains completely shut off to the horrors of captivity.

So why, when the Orlando Business Journal posted a poll asking its readers: “Has CNN’s ‘Blackfish’ documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?” did a staggering 99 percent side with SeaWorld and say “no”? Well, for one, the poll was taken by Orlando readers, many of whom likely benefit from the tourism dollars that SeaWorld brings in. But the other reasons, perhaps, is because 54 PERCENT OF THE VOTES WERE FROM SEAWORLD.

Indeed, in investigating the votes, journalist Richard Bilbao discovered that 54 percent of the votes came from one IP address, and that IP address was located in SeaWorld. For the record, SeaWorld doesn’t deny the accusation. In fact, when called on it, a SeaWorld spokesperson said, “Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company, and we encourage them to make their opinions known.”

Of course, there’s nothing illegal about stuffing the ballot of an unscientific newspaper poll, but really, it goes to show you the lengths with which the people at SeaWorld will go to cover up the fact that their amusement park is abhorrent and inhumane. Then again, t doesn’t say much for the company’s business practices, either, that it allows employees to vote while on the job. Shouldn’t they be busy counting and collecting the money they receive from exploiting sea wildlife?

Source: Bizworld via Reddit




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Nadiney

    I FIXED IT?!

  • Uriah_Creep

    Welcome back to civilization!

  • Protoguy

    So, what would you do? Shut Sea World down? Where will all those poor, poor whales go then? I know, the simplistic answer is "release them!". That would be the wrong answer. Free Willy, or Keiko was "freed" and died a year and a half later, even as the sequels rolled on.

    If you want to argue that they shouldn't have the whales perform, they barely do that now. Since Dawn Brancheau's death, trainers can't enter the water at all and the whales do perhaps 3 or 4 breaches and splash the crowd, which is what 90% of the children coming to see Shamu want to see. So much so that they've installed water fountain jets for when the whales aren't interested in performing. Because when they don't wanna, they don't make em. It's music and a lot of talking and beautiful animals swimming and jumping.

    A total of about 22 whales or so at the North American parks. The great majority, (Tillikum and Katina in Orlando and Corky in San Diego were caught and sold to Sea World in the 70s) were not caught in the wild but were born at Sea World. They do not capture wild animals, in fact, Sea World is one of the few groups that rescues wild animals. 22 orcas, ambassadors for every generation that falls in love with them - which is what feeds the interest in keeping them alive and safe and yeah, free.

    Sea World makes money - lots of it, I'm sure. But unlike most companies that make lots of money, a lot of that money goes back to helping and educating. Cynically, because they're protecting they're money-maker. It's in their own interests to make sure the oceans don't become a wasteland. Sea World is one of the only groups actively working to rescue and rehabilitate manatees, seals, sea turtles, etc.. They've recently rescued a pod of pilot whales, and no they didn't put them to work or take their babbys.

    So again, my original question: what is it you want?

    Shut it down? And have the orcas and dolphins in the parks remain in the parks, and die isolated not only from the other whale pods in the ocean (do you even understand how whale pod society works?), but from the humans they've interacted with their whole life? Humans are part of their pod now. Are you better for wanting to tear that pod apart? Or just better because you didn't bother to think that far?

    Stop performances? So, these animals, who've interacted with each other and humans all their lives are now just supposed to stop because for reasons you can't really grasp, that performance thing "feels" wrong.
    Say you have a pet dog. This dog loves to make you happy, loves to do what you want it to because if it does, you give it treats, pettings, love, whatever. One day you decide that he's not your slave and refuse to make him perform for you any more. It's the principle.
    Do you think the dog understands that principle? All it sees is the person who used to be everything to it, now ignores it.

    Release the whales? Remember Free Willy? Died a year and a half after they released him? Why? Because he wouldn't leave the sound they released him into. He couldn't let go of his POD! The humans who raised him were his pod. You could argue that the whales in each park are their own pods (which they are), and should be fine if released together. Except that these aren't wild animals. The only whales Sea World has that are wild are Tillikum, Katina, the matriarch at Orlando, and Corky III in San Diego. The rest, all 19 or so were born in Sea World. Humans are part of their pod, their social structure and their mental build-up. Releasing them is the last option.

    The thing that gets me the most is the overall ignorance of history and the actual scale of time and structure of events. The captures and the separating the calves things were done in the 70's when the WORLD knew nothing about the creatures. The FIRST orca captured was in 1970. They learned from those mistakes. The immense amount of good they do is being overshadowed by a recent death and 30 year old incidents.

    I seem to remember Siegfried and Roy still working. No calls to shut down Vegas? No, all I remember were fears they would stop the performances and end the man-cat love fest. Joan Jett cancelled her show at Sea World, the one she'f been doing for decades, cuz she only just found out they force the whales to perform for food. The next week she played a Florida rodeo.

    Most places that rescue or breed rare animals are held as beacons of higher intelligence, an awareness that the world is interconnected, that man and nature are one - these are the messages steamrolling throughout a day at Sea World - but because they don't hide the fact that they make money doing it, while non-profits profit 80% of the non-profits they receive, Sea World is enslaving animals for profit.

    The childish simplicity of the argument is astounding. That so many are falling for it without so much as a curious browse for actual facts is moreso.

  • "Do you think the dog understands that principle? All it sees is the person who used to be everything to it, now ignores it."

    You do know there's a middle ground between cracking the whip and ignoring, right?

    When I was a kid, our local zoo had more "animal cellblocks" and a greater focus on rides/food services/amusement, but times changed and luckily, so did the zoo. After much renovation and expansion, it's evolved into more of a preserve/sanctuary, where the experience being marketed is a chance to observe the animals simply being animals, in as close to their natural environment as possible. It's an unfortunate reality that the modern world is hostile to wildlife and is not likely to become less so, given human tendency to multiply and spread out, plus its technology. To the extent that zoos can protect and nurture an endangered species, offer a safer home than what would be available in the rapidly-shrinking wild, and teach generations of people to admire and respect animals as living, feeling creatures, NOT pets or entertainers, zoos have a role to play.

    The problem I have with SeaWorld, circuses and the like are their jacked-up priorities. An animal's value does not come from its ability or willingness to please you, and marketing them as show ponies just perpetuates (and profits off of) the attitudes that harm them in the first place.

  • Aziraphale_3000

    Uhm... Just because you didn't hear about folks wanting Siegfried and Roy to stop exploiting animals doesn't mean they weren't. FWIW, they've "retired."

    And yes... If there's one thing animal rescues are known for, it's money. Gobs and gobs of money. That's probably why so many of my local animal rescues are asking people for blankets, food, and crates for their animals: too much profit.

    I would love to see the public educated about these gorgeous animals and for Sea World to stop exploiting them. As another commenter pointed out, keeping a starfish or a tuna is a world apart from keeping a large, intelligent, and complex animal like a killer whale.

    Sea World could stop the performances but still continue with daily enrichment activities for the animals in their possession. This would allow Sea World to continue "educating" the public, to be responsible for the animals it posses, and not perpetuate the idea that these animals enjoy performance or captivity.

    Only your straw man, Protoguy, wants to shut the park down. Most of the commenters here want to see the animals that are captive respected and treated with dignity. That would not include abandoning them to the wild after captivity or leaving them to rot in concrete tanks.

  • HJ

    Well, you seem pretty fired up for some reason and I know better to argue with someone when they are already spitting nails, but since you seem so keen on asking questions I will ask you one. Why do you think that the only alternative to making your dog perform for food is ignoring them? I have a very non-performance based relationship with my cats who in addition to getting fed and treats every night also get affection.

  • Guest

    Probably should be noted that your daughter is employed by Sea World, yeah?

  • Naye

    I didn't feel like reading most of your paragraph, but Keiko did not actually die a year later as was reported falsely by many news outlets. Keiko died five years later after thriving in a natural environment for some time and traveling as far as 1000 miles to the HER final resting place.

    Also, rescuing wild animals and then using them for profit instead of releasing them back into the wild is not nearly as admirable as you make it seem (see La Parque).
    There are around 56 captive whales at parks, not 22 and it's also not better that they use whales born into captivity. That's like saying that it's better to breed slaves than capture them.
    As far a whale pod society goes, whale pods are not interchangeable. Each whale pod is like a different country, with its own dialect and migration patterns, and social interactions. A lot of these whales attack each other on a constant basis, especially after being cooped up together with nowhere to roam and no escape.
    I don't understand this "we do good, even though we do bad" pin that you've given Sea World as far as their efforts to rescue other sea animals. One act does not negate the other.
    What I believe the activists want is for these captive orcas, specifically, to be released and rehabilitated into the wild, as much as they can be, and for any future exploitation of the whales to be cut off. IDK maybe after they get that far they'll tackle rodeos and circuses. Or maybe somebody else will make a documentary. Who knows? But just because you can't fight em all doesn't mean you cant fight for one.

  • Mrs. Julien

    About three years ago, there was an announcement from Lipton's that they would stop using mice to test health claims about their teas. It had never occurred to me before that such a thing was happening and drove the point home that as much as we want to be careful, trying to be animal friendly can be an endless morass. I don't care if Black Fish was biased. Just as while I care that the animals at Sea World, etc. are well treated, I feel it's wrong that they are there in the first place, no matter how much their trainers love and care for them. I have some rules:

    1. No circuses/Sea Worlds etc. This was an interesting conversation with Little J. He was so disappointed. I used it to teach him the word "ethics". The last time I saw an animal act (sea lions and walruses), it made me cry.
    2. No bunnies have to suffer so I can have mascara. I try to buy all personal care products that are cruelty free. I am not perfect.
    3. We are not vegetarian, but we decided a few years ago to pay more for ethical/chemical free meat and milk*, and eat less of it. Tastes better, too.
    4. I struggle with zoos on the species protection vs. unnatural environment. Our tiny local zoo has two Amur Leopards for breeding. From Wikipedia: Only 14–20 adults and 5–6 cubs were counted in a census in 2007, with a total of 19-26 Amur leopards extant in the wild.
    5. I have an autoimmune disorder and they can kill all the freakin' mice and rats they want if it will help them find a cure. Just be nice to the mice in the meantime, okay?

    Apparently, I'm feeling a might blathery today.

    *noting that there are things legal to give to cows in the US that are not legal in other countries

  • Nyltiak

    Re: point 5. I work in biomedical research, with monkeys and rodents, and I can tell you that we treat our animals VERY well. The regulations on humane treatment and euthanasia do give a very high standard of care. My monkeys are spoiled as all get out. I try not to use makeup tested on animals (though it can be hard to find out for some companies), but I have absolutely zero qualms about animal biomedical research even after working in the industry. Also, if it helps, we also research things that help the animals' lives and health in addition to human lives and health.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you!

    Subject: Re: New comment posted on Newspaper Poll Showing 99% of People's Perceptions of SeaWorld Unaffected by 'Blackfish' Massively Tainted by SeaWorld Employees

  • I chaperoned my 4 YO and his preschool to visit a local dairy farm. I HAD NO IDEA. I was practically in tears and the lovely teachers were trying desperately to put a happy spin on what we were faced with - animals that never see the light of day in their entire lives, live ankle-deep in their own crap which is essentially liquid due to the high-sugar chemical diet they're fed to maintain a ridiculously high milk output. I get sick just thinking about it.

    We try to get ethical milk but it's hard. There's only one place in VT that produces it and you can only get it on certain days of the week and must turn a blind eye to the $5 for 1/2 gallon price. Also organic does not equal ethical. Those cows still never see the light of day and live knee deep in crap, they're just fed fewer chemicals. *shudder*

    In comparison, avoiding Sea World/circuses is easy.

  • Mrs. Julien

    So true, it's so hard to be good even when you really try. I know Horizon Organics is supposed to be evil and juking their stats.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I've been trying to make a concerted effort on the cruelty-free beauty products, and it has not been easy to find what I want. China MANDATES animal testing, so a lot of the brands that didn't/don't test in the U.S. apparently DO test for the Asian market now. (anyone know a good cruelty free liquid black eyeliner that won't take me 15 minutes to wash off at night?)

    Organic dairy is my no brainer for the past couple of years. Though my dad practically shrieked when he saw a half-gallon in my fridge marked $5.99 (don't worry, Dad, I only paid $3.99 for that Amish goodness)

  • Nyltiak

    My BFF's dad is in cosmetics (Mally beauty, doesn't test! their stuff is great!), and we had a discussion over this once, and he told me that it's the Chinese who do the testing, not the companies themselves. The companies still have to decide to sell their things in China, knowing that they'll be tested on animals. So this may or may not make a difference, but it is food for thought.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I guess that's why the Peta website notes "pays for secret testing" as opposed to "directly tests." This, though, is part of the reason I have found my pursuit of cruelty free cosmetics more complicated than anticipated. Never heard of Mally but will give it a look

  • Mrs. Julien

    We buy organic milk for Little J and RBGH free dairy for ourselves.

    My understanding is that Revlon is cruelty free, as is Avon and, of course, the Body Shop. Of course, if you find a product you like at The Body Shop, they will discontinue it but these are the risks one takes.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Avon and Revlon fall under the 'testing in China' problem. But it's been so l o my since I was in a mall that I forgot about The Body Shop, and they do have liquid eyeliner! Lush is also cruelty free, but it's makeup is quite pricey.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Nooooo! CRAP! Thank you for letting me know. I will start looking for new brands again.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I watched this under the pretense it was the long awaited sequel to the classic 1977 film 'Orca'. I haven't been that disappointed since I watched 'Big Fish'.

  • Robert

    I think the more significant element here is that the poll did nothing to account for people who have seen the documentary. For all we know, the 1% of people who changed their minds on Sea World were the 1% of people who took the poll and saw the film. It's a poorly phrased and planned poll if they had any real interest in assessing the possible impact of Blackfish on Sea World tourism.

  • DeaconG

    Well, check it again, apparently the notoriety has caused the poll to flip big time:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/orl...

    Now it's 80/20 saying it did affect their perceptions. The outrage of the internets is a fearful thing.

  • Naye

    It's a pretty irrelevant poll anyway. You can lie and say that people were unaffected by a documentary, when they really were, but it doesn't change the true reaction of people who see the film and subsequently boycott SeaWorld. They win nothing from fudging this poll. I know nothing about the stats on viewership, but I did randomly happen by the documentary a week or so ago, not even knowing what it was, and am now pretty much "no captivity"

  • logan

    Rowles I am 100% with you on the Sea World thing brother man. I've never been there, never will, and I dont do zoo's for the same reason. I will even sing "Born Free" with you, but i wont hold your hand.
    However you cant really talk about the Sea World minions voting during working hours when we all visit YOUR site during working hours. Just sayin...

    FREE THE WHALES!

  • e jerry powell

    Beg to differ: I visit this site during everyone else's working hours.

    Benefits of being legally crazy.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Quite frankly, nothing about this poll is important. The wording of the question is ambiguous, and even according to the editor who broke the story of his own newspaper's poll notes that the results were at 95% even if you remove the Sea World votes.

    The current status of the votes is different - 56% "no" vs 32% yes - and now it's up to a staggering 1506 votes. (so no longer are 54% of votes from SeaWorld)

    I'm curious why Pajiba hasn't reviewed Blackfish, and what makes SeaWorld worse than most zoos/circuses?

  • Art3mis

    I'm not necessarily defending most zoos (and I'm definitely not defending circuses, which are frequently also the subject of boycotts because of their treatment of animals), but to me there's a big difference between keeping orcas in captivity and keeping much smaller animals that do not in nature migrate over thousands of miles with the same family pod. Seals and sea lions, for example, when properly managed in captivity don't show the same reduction in life span and inability to breed that is common among virtually all captive orcas.

    For the same reason, I am not thrilled about elephants being kept in zoos (though good zoos do a significantly better job managing their elephants than SeaWorld does with its orcas) but I am much more comfortable with, say, warthogs or zebras. And while I don't get warm-and-fuzzy feelings from seeing rhinos in captivity, they're so severely endangered in the wild that keeping them in zoos (and the associated breeding programs, some of which result in rhinos being integrated back into the wild) really are necessary. The same really can't be said of orcas, much as SeaWorld likes to pretend otherwise.

  • Naye

    Zoos at the very least don't make animals perform for food. They care for them, and they are occasionally on display. The only zoo I've ever been to is the National Zoo in DC and its not-for-profit (except of course food, plushies, etc). I dont know if some zoos specialize in rehabilitative care, or in caring for species that are actually dwindling in the wild. I would assume circuses fall under the same category as Sea World. The Blacfish documentary is really good, am I'm no animal lover, but it brought me close to tears

  • Protoguy

    Sea World doesn't make the animals perform for food. That's a simplistic description of something you know isn't true. All animal trainers use food to teach the behavior and the animal won't do it without the expected reward. They're animals, not people. The Orcas will eat every fish you give them until they throw it up, just like your stupid dog would. They are not "Performing for Food", as though they won't be fed if they don't perform well.

  • MegP

    You obviously didn't watch the documentary, Protoguy, because that is exactly what was going on. The trainers at Seaworld did not feed the animals if they didn't do the trick right. That is one of the theories why Dawn Brancheau was killed by her whale, Tilikum. He missed a cue and performed the wrong trick, so she didn't reward him. He didn't get the fish because he did it wrong. They also would starve the whales to make them go into their holding cases. So, yes, they were performing for food. Very, very different from a Zoo.

  • Naye

    That is in fact what was happening. In actuality. If they didn't perform well they were not fed. They weren't "treats". The animals were actually hungry and would become agitated by the tactics used to make them perform. Trainers would withhold as punishment, yes, also known as behavior modification. Why would you feed an animal that you expect to perform for an audience hourly ahead of the performance?It makes no sense, because then, there would be no incentive to perform. Therefore, "you don't perform, you don't eat." NOT like what someone would do with a dog. I'm willing to bet most dog owners feed their dogs regardless of whether they perform certain behaviors or not. Also, most dogs are not bothered by their "captivity" and are much more likely to behave with less incentive.

    BTW the orcas perform pretty much all day.

  • To me, this is no different than the Gallup polls that ask 200 people with landlines about their feelings on issues. It's going to give you a selection bias every time.

  • e jerry powell

    Gallup only ever asked me my opinions about premium cable. I thought I was pretty fair.

  • Selection bias suggests that despite efforts to create a sample base that fairly represents the population you are trying to measure, the criteria used to create your sample almost always presents some inherent bias.

    An Internet poll makes no claims to "random sample" but minimally should block multiple entries from a single IP address. Poorly done Orlando Business Journal. Now I'm definitely not ever subscribing to your journal.

  • Protoguy

    Confirmation bias works well too.

  • That's fair, but I doubt the IT wizards at the Orlando paper want to spend a ton of time checking and blocking IP addresses from multiple votes or implementing a new system to automate that on a throwaway poll. It's certainly not as simple as just "doing it."

  • It is with SurveyMonkey and the like. It's as simple as checking a box (one entry per IP). I do Internet Polls like that for my blog. Surely a journalistic organization should be held to higher standards than a SAHM who blogs about kids, no?

  • Perhaps, but I don't know what server system or CMS or backend that the Orlando Business Journal is running, if SurveyMonkey has a plug-in or drop-in would even work on that basis, what kind of page templates they have set up for their articles with regards to the possibility of iframe-ing it in, etc. etc. With something of that size and complexity, it's a lot harder than just adding it to your own blog.

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