Rock and Country Artists Boycotting Sea World Are Missing the Boat
Ever since the CNN Network debuted the controversial documentary film “Blackfish”, rock and country musicians have been lining up in droves to boycott Sea World or cancel previously scheduled concerts at their parks. This week alone, .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood have joined other artists such as Joan Jett and Willie Nelson in publicly denouncing the marine based zoological park. Sadly, their reaction ignores the overwhelmingly positive impact that Sea World has had on the thousands animals it has helped to preserve and the millions of people it has helped to educate.
For those of you who haven’t seen “Blackfish”, it focuses on the tragic death of a Sea World trainer who worked closely with killer whales. The film depicts, in graphic detail, the alleged abuse of the Orcas who are housed at Sea World parks across the country. However, according to a recent editorial written by Sea World Vice President of Zooligical Operations Michael Scarpuzzi, the film neglects to document hundreds of avid animal lovers and conservationists who work for the company and interact with these mammals on a daily basis.
“”Blackfish” focuses on a handful of incidents over our long history at the exclusion of everything else. Not a single interview with a guest who was inspired and enriched by their experience with killer whales at SeaWorld. Not one visitor who left SeaWorld more aware of the need to preserve the world around them. Not one word about the thousands of ill, orphaned and injured animals rescued by SeaWorld or the millions of dollars we dedicate to supporting conservation and research,” Scarpuzzi told CNN. “Blackfish, like other works driven by the same agenda, ignores the extraordinary benefits to conservation, scientific research and education of America’s zoo and aquariums.”
To suggest that Sea World tortures animals is to suggest that all zoos and aquariums are abusive. 11 million people visited Sea World last year alone. The education and inspiration those visitors received far outweighs a small number of isolated, unfortunate incidents that have been sensationalized, commercialized and propagandized in the media.
Next time you read about an artist boycotting Sea World, stop and think about all the good this organization has done for our society. I wish the musicians protesting Sea World had paused to consider the bigger picture.