SeaWorld Rebuts Critics in Ad Campaign

SeaWorld Entertainment is seeking to counter critics who are spreading what it characterizes as “misinformation” and “lies” about the treatment and care of killer whales at its marine life theme parks with a new advertising campaign set to debut this week, the company announced Monday.

The campaign will consist of print, broadcast, and digital ads, including online video and social media.

The company has been on the defensive since the debut in 2013 of a documentary, “Blackfish,” which argued that one of SeaWorld’s captive killer whales, Tilikum, had killed three people, in part because of the conditions involved in captivity and training.

In the wake of the controversy resulting from the documentary, Sea World saw annual attendance at its various properties, including parks in San Diego and Orlando, fall from 23.4 million in 2013 to 22.4 million in 2014.



SeaWorld has already sought to reverse the damage to its brand image with public statements and an open letter. The ad campaign is the most far-reaching effort yet to rebut the claims made in the documentary and by other critics.

The campaign’s print and broadcast TV ads will feature veterinarians, researchers and other staff members involved in animal care at SeaWorld. They explain how they care for killer whales, including recent efforts to upgrade the killer whale habitats.

The online component will include videos featuring SeaWorld employees answering questions about the park and giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at animal care. Members of the public can pose questions via Twitter that will be answered at a Web site,

Among other things, the campaign will rebut PETA’s claims that captive killer whales have shorter lifespans than killer whales in the wild. Here, SeaWorld cites a report from the Associated Press, which concluded that killer whales born at SeaWorld live 46 years on average, a figure comparable to killer whales in the wild.

The campaign will also highlight SeaWorld’s commitment of $10 million to fund research on the lives of killer whales in the wild.

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