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Protesters gather outside SeaWorld San Diego

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SAN DIEGO – Protesters lined up outside SeaWorld San Diego Tuesday evening to send a message to an international trade organization holding an event at the park.

The protest comes in the wake of CNN’s documentary “Blackfish,” which addresses killer whales in captivity and the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau.

However, Tuesday’s protest was directed at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The organization is holding a week-long event in San Diego, with a reception at SeaWorld Tuesday evening.

“Our message is that they need to continue to focus on amusement and entertainment that isn’t on the backs and suffering of wild animals,” said Martha Sullivan, protest organizer.

According to the IAAPA’s website the trade organization promotes “safe operations, professional growth and success of the amusement parks and attractions industry.”

The protestors said the IAAPA should not be associating with certain parks, like SeaWorld.

“Supporting them is the same as supporting cruelty and animal abuse,” said Ellen Ericksen, protestor.

As of late Tuesday the IAAPA had not responded to Fox 5’s requests for comment about the protest. A spokesperson for the organization told Fox 5 to contact SeaWorld “for perspective.”

SeaWorld Communications Director, David Koontz, released the following statement regarding the protest:

“The protesters’ claims and accusations are, as they always have been, without merit. There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld. The real advocates for animals are the trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff and veterinarians at SeaWorld.  SeaWorld will continue to provide the enriching, educational and entertainment experience that has done so much over the last five decades to inspire appreciation and respect for animals around the world.”


  • Robb

    SeaWorld has been getting away with the crap they do to those poor animals for decades. It's about time people woke up and are saying something. Come on dude, a whale in a tank doing stupid tricks for people? What is this the 1930's or something. Those animals belong in the ocean not in a damn swimming pool doing backflips. They are super intelligent and social and need to swim like miles a day. Only a damn fool would think SeaWorld is fun and cool.

  • Martha Sullivan

    Martha Sullivan As reported by the Ocean Preservation Society:

    SeaWorld Entertainment claims $1.5 billion in annual revenue, yet has spent only $9 million on conservation in the past decade – or just 0.0006 of this corporation's net revenue going into research and conservation annually. For every $100 made by a Sea World park, less than 1 cent is put into research benefiting wildlife.

    More orcas have died under Sea World's care than are currently alive in all of its parks. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that orcas die an early death in captivity, with an annual mortality rate at least 3x higher than in the wild. The few animals in Sea World's collection who have lived closer to their natural average life expectancy are featured as successes for the captivity industry. Instead they should be seen as extraordinary survivors.

    As Jacques Cousteau famously observed: there is as much educational benefit in studying dolphins and whales in captivity as there is in observing prisoners in solitary confinement. Sea World has published very few scientific papers, and what it has contributed was already learned some time ago. Sea World contributes almost no information today that addresses the protection of wild marine mammals such as orcas and dolphins.

  • Sally Newell

    Why would anyone decide to go to SeaWorld? From the glossy surface of SeaWorld's PR machine, parents are offered a pinnacle experience with a chance to connect with nature, a guaranteed feel good factor

    Yet under the glossy facade there lies a horrifying tale of kidnappings murders and unbelievable cruelty. Started in 1970's SeaWorld ripped hundreds of Orcas from their families, many died. After weighted bodies washed up the outcry led to legislation that forbade US Orca captures. Despite the no captured policy many SeaWorld dolphins have Taiji DNA. 17 dolphins die per one kidnapped, the $160,000 or so paid for a "trained" dolphin underwrites this barbaric genocidal slaughter, with agonising 10-20 minute deaths. The kidnapped dolphins are starved then force-fed with a mixture of drugs and dead fish, an then conditioned to do tricks with food deprivation. Many of these dolphins, or their offspring, find their way back to Western countries.

    SeaWorlds demands sexual services from its highly intelligent cetaceans, infamously inbreeding direct kin; and the sad results include stillbirths and maternal deaths, and SeaWorld pools echo with the long sad cries of mothers when their babies are taken away from them.

    Dolphins and whales are highly intelligent and call each other by name. Captive cetaceans have remembered their family members names even after twenty years. Their language is so complexly structured that we may have difficulty in deciphering it for quite some time, and it appears that they use non-linear maths everyday in acquiring food.

    It is so wrong to imprison such powerful magnificent sea beings in tiny reflective tanks that effectively blind them. Being ripped from your family and being forced to swim in tiny circles rather in the open ocean 40-100km per day just to do tricks for our entertainment, and for huge profits for SeaWorld owners directors and shareholders could be only be described as modern day slavery.

    SeaWorld, you are on notice!

    Let my people go!!

  • Hunter

    I do not dispute that Se World participates in marine mammal rescue and conservation. I would only like to put it in perspective. I work as a volunteer for one of 10 marine rescue organizations on the west coast that is a non profit. We are part of the marine mammal stranding network, organized to coordinate all rescues. Last year our budget was a little over 8 million from private donations and fundraising. Sea World has only spent 9 million over the last 10 years, this equates to 4 one hundreds of one cent from every dollar brought in at Sea World. And this money has been spent by all the Sea Worlds and busch gardens in not only marine rescue but land and aviary animals too. It is but a very small part of the whole. Sea World is by far the smallest part of the work done by many non profit organizations without corporate greed to distract them.

  • Lisa A.

    But why would you continue to display captive animals when the public doesn't want to see that anymore? Opinions are changing, you can't deny it. Turning a blind eye is not a sound business move. Evolve if you want to stay in any kind of business, SeaWorld. Show you care as much as you say you do–put action behind your words– and transition out of the CAPTIVE marine mammal business!

  • Rosemarie

    SeaWorld like to remind the world about how much they do for conservation. They probably spend more telling the world what they do than actually on what they do. It's an obvious attempt to try to make the world forget about the cruelty it perpetuates by keeping whales in tanks so small that they can't create enough force by swimming to have straight dorsal fins. While having them perform circus like tricks does nothing for education and only teaches children that these animals are mere circus clowns to be used for our amusement. SeaWorld is a disgrace and a joke compared to legitimate aquariums and conservation society's. I don't know how any could visit this place. Only a person lacking any good taste or humanity would visit SeaWorld.

  • Guest

    Send to prison those who keep goldfish in small bowls for their enjoyment! And what about sharks, we go into their homes not the other way around, stay out of the ocean!

    • Robb

      Are goldfish highly intelligent sentient beings? I think not with a long term memory of 3 seconds. Kind of like the majority of Americans. SeaWorld needs to change and move into the 21 st century.

  • Thomas

    SeaWorld parks and others like them, have done so much to enlighten the world to the intelligence and beauty of many species of marine mammals. While captivity may or may not be in the best interest of the particular animals that are in these parks, their presence there has done so much for their respective species in the bigger picture. I truly believe that the negative attitude by most countries concerning the whaling industry can be directly credited to the exposure these animals receive in places like SeaWorld parks.

  • Martha Sullivan

    SeaWorld's response to our "Captivity Kills" Light Brigade while it hosted the IAAPA reception in San Diego last week: "no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld". OK — SHOW IT, SeaWorld …

    "Great news! The President of the Sochi Olympic Committee has just confirmed that the two wild orcas captured by White Sphere will not be displayed during the Sochi Olympics.

    "But this fight isn’t over. Whale and Dolphin Conservation believe that White Sphere is responsible for the capture of 8 wild orcas in the past year. The 2 that were bound for the Sochi Olympics are still in Moscow. They are still destined to be shipped off to another dolphinarium in Russia or China. They will still be forced to participate in live shows and be kept in ridiculously tiny metal tanks.

    "The physical and mental health of these orcas is in danger. We have to ramp up the pressure on White Sphere, and we think we know how. White Sphere is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IIAPA), the world’s largest trade association for amusement parks and aquariums. So is SeaWorld. We want the IIAPA and SeaWorld to expect better from their members and partners.

    "Tell the IIAPA and SeaWorld to boot White Sphere out of the Association, unless it returns the captured orcas to the wild:".….

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