Culture & Entertainment

SeaWorld scandal tarnishes tradition

By: Stephanie Zolis
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

SeaWorld scandal tarnishes tradition

By: Stephanie Zolis

Orcas portrayed as free by their captors The American Thanksgiving means one thing to Canadians: Black Friday. But south of the border, the day of giving thanks remains one of time-honoured tradition—of turkey and television. And, for the latter, football and one long-standing parade reign supreme. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, now in its 87th year, is broadcast from the streets of New York to more than 50 million homes across the U.S. It's a happy, festive, family-oriented event; but this year, it's shrouded in controversy. That's because the 2013 rendering features more than 50 balloons and 40 floats—and one of those floats is slated to be from SeaWorld. Entitled A Sea of Surprises, the float is comprised of orcas that appear to be enjoying the deep blue sea among their pod. Unfortunately, the depiction is far from reality as far as the aquatic theme park is concerned: SeaWorld, by its very nature, separates killer whales from their pods and keeps them in captivity. An obvious publicity stunt, parade participation is intended to change public perception following the national telecast of the SeaWorld exposé, Blackfish, on CNN last month. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it looks at the captivity of an orca named Tilikum, a killer whale involved in the death of three people—two SeaWorld trainers and a visitor to the theme park—and the consequences of keeping such a magnificent but deadly creature in captivity. The documentary was later picked up by a distributor, making it possible for a larger audience to pay witness to the cruelty demonstrated behind the walls of SeaWorld's aquariums. Now, while we're supposed to be celebrating the spirit of the season, SeaWorld hopes to fool the public into associating happy orcas with the theme park's attempt at entertainment. And despite a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals petition that's collected more than 80,000 signatures, the show will go on. SeaWorld, apparently, floats Macy's boat. (Photo: Magnolia Pictures)
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SeaWorld scandal tarnishes tradition

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