Sea World’s Recent Press Nightmare

The last week of March 2015 has been a roller coaster for Sea World Parks. First, they announced their new park CEO, Joel Manby who was the former head of Herschend Entertainment.

Joel ManbyManby comes in after the last CEO stepped down in December of 2014, most likely from pressure due to “Blackfish” and trying to reshape Sea World’s image.  However, it doesn’t stop there….

Copyright The Daily Show

Copyright The Daily Show

On March 26th, The Daily Show had John Hargrove on the program where he was interviewed by Jon Stewart about his new book “Beneath The Surface” which chronicles his time as a Sea World Trainer.  Stewart said that even though he has had controversial guests on in the past, nothing prepared him for how much his Twitter feed blew up as a result of just announcing Hargrove as a guest on the show.

John Hargrove

John Hargrove

Even John Stewart mentioned in the interview. that many Twitter followers were urging him not to believe anything Hargrove says. Indeed, it seems there are many inconsistencies between Hargrove’s book and what he has previously said which are chronicled at a website called

Before his recent appearance at Sea World Orlando’s Bands Brews and BBQ event, Larry The Cable Guy posted this to Twitter.  Indeed, anytime a celebrity is announced to be playing at Sea World, a group of activists blow up their Twitter feed, which is why so many backed out last year.  Getting hit on social media by activists seems to be a favorite pastime, which is why this did not seem like a good idea…

Sea World started answering questions directly on Twitter recently which has been just plain hard to watch.  While there have been questions answered that help the public understand all Sea World does to care for it’s animals….

Unfortunately, that is not what people are talking about. As expected, there are a lot of activists trolling and blowing up Sea World’s newsfeed. Sadly, the responses to them are the ones everyone is talking about…

It gets worse…..

No matter where you stand on the Sea World controversy, one thing is clear: they need to keep it professional.  This is a pivotal moment for Sea World and how they handle themselves will define them for years to come.

Blackfish Supporters

Blackfish Supporters

As a blogger, I have gotten my fair share of hate mail, spam messages and even death threats (seriously, I have)… at the end of the day, I keep my head held high and I move on. I am not representing thousands of employees or an entire organization, but I can tell you, there is no way I would have handled this the way Sea World has thus far.  They need to get a grip on reality and fast. Your thoughts?

Copyright Blackfish

Copyright Blackfish

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  1. plantaloons
    Posted March 28, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I’d like to think most people are aware of Seaworld’s fantastic conservation efforts, and they really are fantastic. However, that isn’t really going to distract people from the orca issue. Perception is key for them currently. I was in Orlando in January and we didn’t visit Seaworld on that occasion. We drove past several times though and I noticed how shabby the large sign looked that they have on the roadside as you go past on I-Drive. I’ve been following the Blackfish backlash closely, but I couldn’t help but think that someone who only has a casual knowledge of the controversy could see that shabby, faded sign and think that place was really struggling and/or going downhill. Seems like a silly thing perhaps, but people tend to judge books by their cover. Perhaps budgetary reasons are behind the lack of upkeep on said signage, but positive public perception should really be their top priority if they want to draw the casual crowd.

    I grew up with Seaworld and have visited many times. I’m in no rush to boycott the place, but I personally don’t feel I can condone the continued keeping of the orcas. I think the new tanks are a step in the right direction, but perhaps it’s too little too late. I also recognise the fact that they surely couldn’t release the many of the whales back into wild, as they may not cope with the shock.

    I think the middle ground here is that they need to make the current generation of orcas the final one they breed. That gives them chance to slowly phase Shamu out of Seaworld and improve the public perception. Seaworld is a great park and great day out. I don’t think the loss of Shamu would change that and I think that’s what the Seaworld bigwigs need to realise.

  2. fan51
    Posted March 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I wish you had a primer on John Hargrove’s story. Since you didn’t, I can’t help wondering what’s the nightmare actually is. Most customers likely don’t use Twitter like myself. I am only aware of such things after it was posted and reported. If John Hargrove is contradicting himself, he is of no use to damage Sea World.

    Personally, I think SeaWorld should move beyond the Shamu show. While Orcas are still the star attraction, the distraction is hurting attendance more than having the show. They should consider seeking an alternative headliner that doesn’t use animals like Disney’s spectacular shows. The anticipated new Orca enclosure should include edutainment that educates the public about the animals while allowing a close view.

    Ringling Bros Circus is phasing out the elephant act. SeaWorld can do a similar thing over 4 or 5 years and after the new Orca enclosure is completed. This will send a message that the show is leaving and goose up attendance as they do need the money. Announce a new spectacular evening show with a new equally entertaining day show will be a positive outcome.

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