Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SeaWorld Floods Debate Audience with Paid Employees to Cheer & Jeer

Back on October 12, 2012 the marine mammal industry paid homeless folks, and others, $22 per hour to sit in line and occupy chairs at a NOAA hearing in Silver Spring, Maryland. This was done to flood available spaces at the hearing with "hired hands," to "represent" the cruel practices of the captivity industry, by doing nothing. 

You can read  about it and see images of the actual "line sitters" in the article linked here:

Read all about the above in this great article by Elizabeth Batt HERE

Specifically, these folks were used to block out the work of NGO's & animal welfarists who wished to testify, or hear testimony, against the idea of importing 18 wild caught belugas that were captured on behalf of SeaWorld, the Georgia Aquarium, & the Shedd Aquarium. The industry paid tens of thousands of dollars to block a democratic process that should have been open to all that were interested, by using mostly poor people as pawns. NOAA denied the permit, but the industry has since appealed the decision. 

That was then. This is now...  

Despite accumulating scientific evidence that orcas suffer in captivity, SeaWorld continues to spread misinformation & use propaganda & stunts, similar to the disgraceful one used at the NOAA hearings, in 2012. Maybe the company is desperate, especially since recent polling data, HERE, shows that only 21% of the American public support keeping killer whales in captivity; 50% oppose; and 29% are undecided. 

Same Corporate Tactics in 2014

On June 5, 2014, Voice of San Diego (VOSD) hosted an-open-to-the-public SeaWorld Round Table event composed of SeaWorld killer whale trainer Kristi Burtis and Veterinarian Todd Robeck, head of the company’s breeding program, plus Naomi Rose PhD of the Animal Welfare Institute and professor Susan Gray Davis, who’s researched the park’s business model. The event was also live streamed and described by VOSD in economic terms: 

"SeaWorld has a significant economic footprint in San Diego. During its 50-year history, it's generated millions for city coffers and employed thousands of San Diegans. But a controversial documentary has raised big questions about SeaWorld's treatment of its trademark killer whales." 

Watch as SeaWorld's veterinarian, Dr. Todd Robeck, concludes the 90 minute debate with a tearful plea on behalf of the captivity corporation.  

With its brand hemorrhaging followers, corporate partners, stock holders, and social capital, the easy way out would be to admit mistakes, apologize for the failed experiment, and move forward with a progressive business model; move away from marine mammal captivity. 

NOT for SeaWorld. 

The company, still largely composed of corporate cowboys, is hanging onto captivity like the Koch Brothers hanging onto climate change denial.  It's become laughable

Read how SeaWorld has become a "Laughing Stock" HERE 

Thus, instead of letting the debate venue fill organically, and represent a true cross-section of the interested public, SeaWorld decided to (once again) flood the hearing with more "paid place-holders," this time using its own employees, shipped in courtesy of company vans. SeaWorld knows that far more people are now opposed to it's business model than support it. And it couldn't risk being outnumbered & embarrassed in this public forum.  

This SeaWorld van was one used to transport employees into the debate

You have to give credit to SeaWorld for one thing... 

this time they got a better deal, as the average wage at SeaWorld is far less than the $22 per hour that they & the Georgia Aquarium paid the line sitters at the NOAA hearing. 

Our only question is whether the employee place-holders were getting overtime pay


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