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'Blackfish' Backlash Hits Busch Gardens

WUSF 89.7 News

As controversy continues to swirl over animal treatment at SeaWorld's parks, including its Orlando location, the backlash has spread to its sibling park, Busch Gardens in Tampa.

The Tampa Tribune reports the Beach Boys and Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo will not be taking part in the park's Bands, Brew & BBQ concert series.

In the statement, SeaWorld Entertainment added, “It’s disappointing that a digital harassment campaign enacted by animal activists led to denying thousands of fans what would have been two exciting concerts, but we’re committed to bringing our guests a great festival.”

A number of artists, including Trisha Yearwood, Cheap Trick, Heart, REO Speedwagon, Willie Nelson, the Barenaked Ladies and Martina McBride have already pulled out of appearances at SeaWorld’s version of the Bands, Brew & BBQ event.

The artists' decisions are apparently in response to the film Blackfish, a documentary about the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. The film is critical of the conditions in which marine mammals like orcas - or killer whales - are housed at the theme park.

SeaWorld has taken out newspaper ads defending how it treats its animals, and previously characterized the film as  “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate.”

Earlier this week, SeaWorld reported record fourth-quarter attendance and expects record revenue for 2013.

Additional reporting by Amy Green & Matthew Peddie

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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