It appears that SeaWorld employees are angry at the damage done to its reputation by "Blackfish," a documentary that claimed the theme park chain ran shows at its Orlando location featuring a killer whale the company knew to have already killed two of its trainers.
The film suggests SeaWorld's whales are slowly going crazy, like prisoners kept in a bathtub for life.
SeaWorld called the film "inaccurate and misleading" when it aired on CNN in October, and now, the company has gone to even greater lengths to restore its reputation among people who feel SeaWorld was responsible for the death of the whale's third victim.
On Dec. 31, The Orlando Business Journal conducted an online poll asking whether 'Blackfish' had changed readers' perception of SeaWorld, which has one of its three parks in Orlando. When the poll remarkably revealed that 99% of respondents said the film did not change their perception of the theme park, Orlando Business Journal reporter Richard Bilbao decided to check just where all these votes were coming from.
The answer? SeaWorld.
Bilbao reports that about 54% of the poll's 328 votes came from a single Orlando location, whose Internet Protocol Address linked it to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Though 95% of respondents would have voted "No," even without SeaWorld's intervention, the tide has turned dramatically since SeaWorld's voting was made public Monday afternoon. The poll currently shows that 73% of more than 2,000 voters say "Blackfish" changed their perception of SeaWorld.
In response, a SeaWorld spokesperson Nick Gollattscheck told The Orlando Business Journal that the votes came from passionate SeaWorld employees supporting their company.
"Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company, and we encouraged them to make their opinions known," Gollattscheck said.
"Blackfish" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2013. When CNN aired the film in October, the broadcast sparked a conversation about how being kept in captivity can have destructive psychological effects on killer whales, and whether SeaWorld's treatment of its whales makes them unsafe for humans to be around.
Among other negative ramifications SeaWorld suffered following the film, activists convinced musical acts like Willie Nelson and the Barenaked Ladies to cancel concerts they'd been scheduled to play at its parks.
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