Since the movie Blackfish was released, Sea World Amusement Parks have been under constant fire for their treatment of their killer whales. The movie exposed Sea World employee’s talking about the terrible treatment of the giant fish and shed a bad light on the company. The film focuses on Tilikum, a killer whale that is responsible for the death of three Sea World employees. The movie was created after the death of Dawn Brancheau, who was pulled under the water and attacked by Tilikum. Sea World announced that she was targeted by the giant sea animal because she wore her hair in a ponytail that day.
Now, Sea World has a huge PR problem on their hands. For years, the company has boasted its love for animals and its fun habitats for the giant beasts. The movie took this image and ripped it to shreds. To combat these accusations, Sea World immediately got on the defense and started to attack the makers of the film.
Their Facebook page posts pictures that read “I Stand with Sea World,” and other pro- Sea World advertisements. They also established a website with the URL of seaworld.com/truth. This website attacks the film using many different forms of social media. They have videos from professionals and even employees that were featured in the film. In addition to those videos, there is factual information about the care that Sea World provides for their whales and how the protect the special bond between a mother whale and her calf. There are letters from the zoological team and even a video of Tilikum playfully interacting with a Sea World Guest.
I took away a lot from this case, including what not to do in this kind of PR crisis. I believe that Sea World did not handle this situation very well because they took such a hard defensive position against the film and attacked the facts portrayed in it. I believe the best way for Sea World to react to the movie would be to assure their guests that their animals will be treated better in the future, since people have already seen the dark side. They need to show that they are trying to reform the parks with more technology and better care for its animals.