Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Florida Lobbyist Group Lashes out at Blackfish Supporters and Gets a TOP Response

The Orca Project defends Blackfish supporters & rebuts outrageous lobbyist from Tallahassee. 

JK writes, "We're just getting started."  

This week, the CEO of a Florida lobby group known as the "Florida Attractions Association" (FAA) lashed out at Blackfish supporters in an unhinged & inaccurate letter to drum up support for one of his biggest donors, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment (owned by the Blackstone Group).  Bill Lupfer referred to animal justice advocates as radical extremists and said that CNN was desperate for ratings.  Lupfer seems unknowledgeable regarding the CNN Films branch of the network, which, according to CNN... 

... brings documentaries beyond the small screen by developing strategic partnerships to leverage distribution opportunities at film festivals and in theaters. 

CNN Films has about a dozen high quality feature documentaries it purchased distribution rights for and has been screening on cable TV. Blackfish is one of many, and notably has been the most highly viewed & rated film in the 2013 series. CNN reports that it will air Blackfish again in January of 2014. 

The intent of the Lupfer's rant was to mobilize voting at TMZ's "You Be the Judge" poll. TMZ wants to know if you like the marine park or would rather "Shut it down." The strategy backfired, and instead, mobilized a community of informed and passionate Blackfish supporters, who reject the idea of keeping cetaceans in concrete pools for corporate profits. "Shut it down" is up by 24 points, currently. 


Here's the opening two paragraphs of CEO Lupfer's letter: 
Dear FAA Member,  
One of our members is under attack. SeaWorld has a remarkable history of investing millions of dollars in their conservation efforts, habitat restoration programs, protection of endangered species, and producing public education programs to inspire millions about the importance of preserving our planet’s natural resources. They are a global leader in animal welfare.  
Unfortunately, a few radical extremist groups are attacking SeaWorld.  CNN network, desperate for ratings, modified their all “news” format to air a skewed documentary denigrating SeaWorld.  A result has been the cancellation of some music groups who had been booked to perform at SeaWorld next spring. 
[The entire call-to-action letter is here: http://floridaattractions.org/en/art/1364]
Bill Lupfer, President & CEO, Florida Attractions Association, Tallahassee, FL

As you might guess, the letter above didn't go over well with animal lovers, and generated thousands of responses on social media, including a sampling here: 

It also led to Lupfer shutting down his company's Facebook page to delete the hundreds of pro-Blackfish, anti-FLA and anti-FAA comments; and to block commenters.  


Finally, it drew this articulate & powerful response from John Kielty of  The Orca Project, (Thank You, JK) who says, on behalf of many:   

Dear Mr Lupfer,

Your article regarding SeaWorld posted today on the Florida Attractions Association website was brought to my attention and raises some concerns.

I understand your position (and your job) depends on the support of your members and that you must do what you believe is in the best interest of your membership.

However, this article crosses the line in your categorization of of those who are opposed to the treatment of captive killer whales at your member facility SeaWorld.

There are tens of thousands (if not millions) of caring individuals around the world who have made their own informed decisions about captive cetaceans (dolphins, killer-whales, etc) despite SeaWorld's conservation efforts with other animals. I count myself as one of them. And I'm far from being an "extremist". I'm just an intelligent, free-thinking individual who can analyze facts and make decisions upon them. That's what most of the Blackfish supporters are.

By utilizing the same tactics and "extremist" rhetoric put forth by SeaWorld, your organization will alienate the very people that Florida's tourism industry depends on. It is also exposing your other members to a collective reasoning that they too must support orca captivity, and hence, will also be subject to public scrutiny for supporting such.

I'm quite certain you've seen the documentary. And I'm also sure SeaWorld is a big contributor to your organization. I just hope you'll make some better decisions on how to proceed from here. You are exposing yourself, your organization, and all of your members to quite an onslaught of bad publicity.

By the way- 3 more bands have cancelled their SeaWorld performances since you wrote this article and the tens of thousands of fans are taking notice. And we haven't really even started on the business associates of SeaWorld. So tread lightly Mr. Lupfer. We're just getting started.

All the best,
John Kielty
Co-founder, The Orca Project