By Madison Montgomery
With Southwest Airlines and British Airways recently cutting their ties with the major marine park, SeaWorld, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse for the animal captivity scene. Well, the unthinkable has happened as yet ANOTHER airline company has decided to drop ties with SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.!
Because of pressures placed on the company by animal-rights activists who disapprove of cetacean (mainly killer whale) captivity, Virgin America Inc. recently dropped SeaWorld from the Elevate rewards program – a system that allows customers to earn travel points every time they spend money at SeaWorld parks.
This victory is mainly attributed to the “Blackfish Effect,” and the resulting ongoing campaigns against marine mammal captivity. “Blackfish” was a documentary that followed the life of Tilikum, a male orca whale caught from Icelandic waters, and his role in three unprovoked attacks on SeaWorld trainers. The film also looks at the captivity industry and how it has “progressed” – for lack of a better term – over the last 50 years.
With every company that decides to break away from SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. comes an increase in the amount of people who begin to confront the problems of captivity. Over the past year alone, there has been an overwhelming decrease in SeaWorld’s profits and overall success. In fact, the park reached it’s record low in stock prices back in August when shares tumbled by 33 percent. Attendance dropped by 13 percent during the spring season, and a number of musicians have cancelled shows held at SeaWorld venues.
The Virgin Group’s non-profit foundation called Virgin Unite developed a pledge and asked marine parks to avoid accepting wild caught dolphins and whales as animal theme park additions. SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio, and Texas are three parks that have signed the pledge.
Still, while Virgin Airlines has made the right decision, it is important to note that Virgin Holidays will continue to offer packages to SeaWorld online. Regardless, we are pleased to hear about this news and can only hope that more and more companies are able to drop SeaWorld ties for good in the near future.