Facing a mounting public-relations crisis, SeaWorld has finally responded to charges of animal mistreatment made in this year's documentary "Blackfish."
On Friday, SeaWorld paid to publish an open letter in eight newspapers, including the
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, "Blackfish" investigates the death of
"Blackfish" became a critical darling when it opened at the
Since then hundreds of celebrities have rallied against SeaWorld on social media and eight musical acts -- including Willie Nelson,
In an interview with The Times on Friday morning, SeaWorld President and Chief Executive
Some of the six bullet points made in the letter assert that "SeaWorld does not capture whales in the wild" and doesn't "separate killer whale moms and calves." Similar arguments were presented in a message quietly sent to roughly 50 film critics in July just before the theatrical release of "Blackfish."
Atchison said SeaWorld tried to persuade the musicians who canceled their appearances to change their minds by "inviting them to tour our parks" and "offering opportunities for them to talk with our people."
"Sadly and unfortunately," he added, " they were really responding to petitions that were driven by an activist agenda. They responded with the notion that it was easier for them to move on and sidestep the attention altogether."
"Blackfish" is one of 15 films being considered for an Academy Award nomination in the documentary category; the five nominees will be announced Jan. 16.
On Friday, filmmaker Cowperthwaite said she viewed SeaWorld’s new letter as “proof that ‘Blackfish’ woke a 40-year sleeping dragon.”