SeaWorld ad campaign counters whale mistreatment claims

Facing a mounting public relations crisis, SeaWorld is launching a counterattack over claims that it is mistreating its Orca whales.

The company took out full page ads in eight of the country's largest newspapers to "set the record straight" and dispute accusations made in the documentary "Blackfish." (Via WESH)

The film examines the 39-year history of killer whale captivity, leading up to the killing of a SeaWorld trainer by a whale in 2010. It contests that the marine mammals suffer from boredom, stress and psychosis — and should not be held captivity. (Via CNN)

Although "Blackfish" isn't addressed by name in SeaWorld's new ad, it does refute specific claims made in the film.

The first being that "SeaWorld does not capture killer whales in the wild." And hasn't in 35 years. It also claims it does not "separate killer whale moms and calves" except when the mother can't care for the calf.

It also argues that SeaWorld pours millions of dollars into maintaining its whale facilities and supporting whale research.

The ads come just days after major music artists such as Willie Nelson, REO Speedwagon, Heart and Martina McBride canceled their appearances to SeaWorld's annual "Bands, Brew and BBQ" concert. (Via CBS)

WILLIE NELSON: "Well, I don't agree with the way they treat their animals... so it wasn't that hard a deal for me to cancel." (Via WTSP)

SeaWorld President and CEO Jim Atchison says those views are not representative of the American public, and that SeaWorld has not seen a decline in park visitors since the airing of "Blackfish."

Telling the Orlando Sentinel: "That ended up getting more coverage and became a story of its own, and, accordingly, what we wanted to do is to make sure that some of the misconceptions that were floating around related to that coverage were put to bed." (Via Orlando Sentinel)

SeaWorld currently has 29 whales in captivity. The company is appealing federal restrictions on how its trainers can interact with the whales during performances.

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