By Lyndsay Winkley 8 P.M.DEC. 22, 2013
SAN DIEGO — About 100 people protested at SeaWorld in San Diego Sunday for what activists described as inhumane animal treatment.
The rally came on the heels of a nationwide campaign by SeaWorld Entertainment in full-page newspapers ads to combat information presented in the documentary, “Blackfish.”
The film showcases the life of Tilikum, an orca that killed SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau during a 2010 performance. The film argues captive whales are injured physically and psychologically.
SeaWorld has labeled the documentary “inaccurate and misleading” and said the company “commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research.”
The protest organizer said it was especially important to gather on the heels of the ads.
“SeaWorld’s ad tried to justify that their business practices are ethical — and they’re not,” said Ellen Ericksen, adding she ultimately hopes to see the park close. SeaWorld posted a message to its website on Friday saying it does not capture whales from the wild or separate killer whale moms and calves. It also said the company invests millions into the care of its whales.
“The men and women of SeaWorld are true animal advocates,” the website said.
At Sunday’s gathering, Jill Robinson and her 7-year-old daughter, Ryan, were among the many demonstrators dressed in black and white. The pair stood near the park’s entrance chanting “Shut down, SeaWorld.”
Robinson said she became passionate about marine mammal activism after watching “Blackfish.”
“I used to be a zookeeper,” Robinson said. “And to see the truth … it was enlightening.”
Robinson said for her, the event was an opportunity to educate her daughter about the importance of protecting animals and the power of protest.
“If there is something we don’t agree with, we say something.”