A single IP address was responsible for more than half of the responses to a poll by the Orlando Business Journal related to the documentary Blackfish. According to The Journal, the IP address came from SeaWorld.com and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
The 2013 documentary Blackfish is an examination of the captivity of orcas, or killer whales, and the dangerous misconceptions, perpetuated by businesses like SeaWorld, about keeping such large and intelligent mammals in captivity. In particular, the documentary follows the tragic story of a large bull orca known as Tilikum, a performing killer whale that has killed multiple people while in captivity.
Interviewing mainly former SeaWorld trainers and marine experts and using SeaWorld records and video footage, the documentary exposes the inhumane way in which orcas are captured in the wild and confined for their entire lives in small environments with inadequate stimulation. It reveals how captivity affects the orcas’ mental and physical well-being as well as how trainers have been misled to believe, and teach, that whales live longer, healthier lives in captivity.
The film exposes the numerous deaths that have occurred as a result of captive orcas, and reveals lies told to the media regarding some of those deaths.
Since the release of the film in November, SeaWorld has faced a barrage of public relations issues, including several musical acts withdrawing their decision to perform at a planned concert series at the park. In December, the Orlando Business Journal published an online poll that asks, “Has CNN’s Blackfish documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?”
By January 2nd, the results of the poll showed that nearly 99 percent of respondents had answered “No,” siding with SeaWorld. But an investigation by a reporter with The Journal, which was later corroborated by multiple third-party entities, found that more than 54 percent of the votes came from a single IP address belonging to SeaWorld.
When asked about the poll, a SeaWorld spokesman said the company encourages its employees to weigh in on the message of the documentary film. “Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company, and we encourage them to make their opinions known,” spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told The Journal.
“Our team members have as much a right to vote as anyone else… We don’t have a ‘bot,’” he continued. “Each of those votes that came from SeaWorld were cast by a team member who is passionate about who we are and what we do.”
So far, it is not evident how much the film will financially impact SeaWorld. The company brought in $538.4 million in revenue for the third quarter of 2013, an increase from the same quarter during the previous year. Park profit also increased by nearly 30 percent compared to the previous year, although attendance at the park decreased during 2013.
Via: The Orca Project
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.