How One Documentary Exposed The Cruelty Of SeaWorld And Killed The Company

by John Haltiwanger

It seems that SeaWorld may not be here for much longer.

SeaWorld's stock has plummeted as the public continues to turn against the amusement park that they see as abusive to animals.

Much of this backlash is a consequence of the film "Blackfish." The documentary highlighted the cruelty of keeping large aquatic animal, like the orca whale, in a confined space for the sake of entertainment.

Blackfish did extremely well for a documentary, and was lauded by both audience members and critics.

Despite its popular success, however, Blackfish did not get nominated for an Academy Award, which many viewed as unfair.

The film is incredibly emotional, and documents the extreme conditions many orcas have been placed in as a consequence of SeaWorld.

It also discusses the controversial death of a SeaWorld killer whale trainer, and the way in which the company attempted to spin the story to blame the trainer.

The film, however, places the death of the trainer, Dawn Brancheau, on SeaWorld. Based on the evidence it presents, many might agree with that assessment.

Essentially, by keeping orcas in captivity, it's believed that SeaWorld increases the risk for accidents and damages the physical and mental health of the animals.

SeaWorld's image has been irrevocably damaged by this documentary, despite the fact that the company initially dismissed the film as dishonest and misleading when it was released.

Earlier this month, SeaWorld attempted to save its image by announcing the opening of a spacious new habitat for their orcas.

VIDEO: SeaWorld, stung by criticism and facing declining attendance, unveils plans for new killer whale habitat: — The Associated Press (@AP) August 15, 2014

It appears, however, that the SeaWorld brand has been tarnished far beyond repair.

On August 13, the company's stock was down by 33 percent. This seems to be a major victory for animal rights and could mark the end of what was once an extremely popular attraction.

Docs can change the world: the Blackfish effect on SeaWorld stock — Dogwoof (@dogwoof) August 14, 2014
#Blackfish Wednesday Graphic of the @SeaWorld stock collapse with major headlines @thejenwilkinson @melissa_cronin — Jeffrey Ventre (@jeffrey_ventre) August 17, 2014

In the first six months of 2014, SeaWorld attendance dropped by 4.3 percent, and both Wall Street and consumers have turned their backs on the attraction. It likely will not survive the winter.

There is also an enormous online movement against SeaWorld, led by organizations such as The Oceanic Preservation Society and The DoDo.

When investors, consumers and the Internet turn on a business, it usually spells trouble, and it looks like the tide is against SeaWorld -- no pun intended.

Perhaps this will cause more people to question the existence of animal-themed amusement parks in general, as incidents like the euthanization of a giraffe in Copenhagen earlier this year met international backlash.

Is the fall of SeaWorld the start of a broader movement against zoos? Only time will tell, but it seems as though SeaWorld might soon be a distant memory.

Photo Credit: WENN