Anti-SeaWorld Activists to Rally at Orlando Park Today

Dec 22, 2013 6:00 am

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SeaWorld is desperate to make this look entirely like a fringe issue and keep its critics from looking like they are part of the mainstream. Unfortunately, they already are.

— Jason Clampet

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Suzanne Allee  / Magnolia Pictures/MCT

Tilikum in a scene from "Blackfish," a Magnolia Pictures release. Suzanne Allee / Magnolia Pictures/MCT

Animal-rights activists, strengthened by the “Blackfish” controversy, will gather outside of SeaWorld Orlando on Sunday to express disdain for what they claim is the theme-park company’s cruel and inhumane capturing of dolphins and orcas.

The protest comes days after SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. placed full-page ads in newspapers across the country in an aggressive counterattack of the critical “Blackfish” documentary.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and supporters will meet at 11 a.m. at the park’s entrance.

“Of course they’re going to run full-page ads,” said Bryan Wilson, the group’s Central Florida coordinator. “SeaWorld is trying to frame the conversation. It’s not surprising. SeaWorld cares about the dollars and cents — not the animals.”

SeaWorld Orlando spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said the protesters are misguided.

“Like our supporters, we have been frustrated by the dishonesty and misinformation that has characterized the animal rights campaign currently being waged against us,” Gollattscheck said. “We felt the time had come to address the many falsehoods about our long history of marine mammal display and put these issues to rest.”

Still, Wilson said his organization normally averages about 50 to 70 supporters during protests.

This time, he’s hoping attendance will be bolstered by the publicity “Blackfish” gained after eight musical acts backed out of SeaWorld Orlando’s Bands, Brew and BBQ Festival amid mounting online pressure. The festival begins in February.

“The protesters’ claims and accusations are without merit.” Gollattscheck said.

“There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld,” he added.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will beef up patrols but expects a peaceful demonstration.

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