December 9th, 2013
09:47 AM ET

Bands Nix SeaWorld Shows Following CNN Film "Blackfish"

Add Heart to the list of bands that are bowing out of a show at SeaWorld because of the CNN documentary "Blackfish."

"Heart has chosen to decline their forthcoming performance at SeaWorld on 2/9/14 due to the controversial documentary film 'Black Fish,'" the band said Sunday on its verified Twitter account.

Sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson did not elaborate.

But the duo isn't the first to cancel a concert at the Florida theme park because of the film.

"Country singer Willie Nelson and Canadian rock group Barenaked Ladies also bowing out of their February performances because of issues raised by the film," CNN's Martin Savidge reports.

"While we're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld by Heart, Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson, we respect the bands' decisions," SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told CNN on Sunday.

The documentary - which first aired on CNN in October - tells the story of the killing in 2010 of experienced SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by a 12,000-pound orca.

The film raises questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity over the past 39 years.

Moved by the documentary, fans started online petitions asking musicians to stay away.

When the Barenaked Ladies nixed their plans last week to play at SeaWorld, they explained that it was a decision made after viewing "Blackfish."

"This is a complicated issue, and we don't claim to understand all of it, but we don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time," the band said in a Facebook post.

When SeaWorld's Gollattscheck confirmed Nelson's decision not to sing at SeaWorld, he cited "scheduling conflicts," but Nelson said it was because of the documentary and petition.

"I don't agree with the way they treat their animals," Nelson told CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "It wasn't that hard a deal for me."

SeaWorld said it would like the musical artists to learn for themselves about SeaWorld.

"The bands and artists have a standing invitation to visit any of our parks to see firsthand or to speak to any of our animal experts to learn for themselves how we care for animals and how little truth there is to the allegations made by animal extremist groups opposed to the zoological display of marine mammals," Gollattscheck said.

SeaWorld says the documentary ignores the park's conservation efforts and research.

"'Blackfish' focuses on a handful of incidents over our long history at the exclusion of everything else," wrote Michael Scarpuzzi, vice president for zoological operations at San Diego SeaWorld, in an op-ed on "Not a single interview with a guest who was inspired and enriched by their experience with killer whales at SeaWorld. Not one visitor who left SeaWorld more aware of the need to preserve the world around them. Not one word about the thousands of ill, orphaned and injured animals rescued by SeaWorld or the millions of dollars we dedicate to supporting conservation and research."

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  1. Amy

    I now have several bands I will never support again. Up until now Cheap Trick was my favorite band, and Heart and Joan Jett were in the top five. I will never listen to another song from any of these groups again. It is a sad day when somebody can take a whole company out of contest, by only showing the bad and not any of the good they do. These people who are signing the petitions are like preachers who take the Bible out of context in order to scare people into thinking what they think, and believing what they believe. This just goes to show the world how ignorant Americans are, and that we are just sheep waiting to be lead to slaughter. I visit Sea World in San Antonio a couple of times a year, well I will be visiting them more now. I will take my business from one area to another. I wont be attending the Heart concert at the San Antonio Rodeo either, and that was my birthday present.

    December 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  2. Dana

    How do you save the population of orca by making a few of them do tricks at Sea World? And with the way you isolate them from one another (you'd have to, I'm not stupid), what exactly are you saving? Emotionally traumatized individuals who miss their families and therefore aren't firing on all cylinders anymore. And since we've done nothing about the reasons these creatures are dying out, even if you release yours back to the wild, they'll likely get killed out there. Quit posturing like you're the Savior of Marine Mammals, Sea World. You're just turning a buck like anyone else. Which is fine–if you weren't negatively affecting the lives of other beings for no good reason.

    And I'm not a militant animal rights activist. I'm not even a vegan. If I can see this... well...

    December 10, 2013 at 11:30 am | Reply
  3. Jack

    Unrelated I admit but I visited Sea World with my family in 2003. Before the Orca show the announcer read a speech expressing Sea World's support of the Iraq war and "America's freedom". It was kind of political and definitely an out of place, wtf moment.

    December 10, 2013 at 8:10 am | Reply
  4. mary

    Well, I for one won't support or attend a Heart, Willie Nelson or Barenaked Ladies concert or album. I do not see any of them rescuing any sea mammals.

    December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am | Reply
  5. Cheryl W Hamilton

    I am a CNN addict and have never been so disturbed by your reporting as this morning. How can viewers appreciate the memorial itself with your reporters talking through the each aspect except for our president? What is your purpose of airing it at all? I have changed channels in frustration of being unable to hear the memorial participants' contributions during this most special event. Please reign your folk in so those still remaining to rely on your channel to be a part of this occasion can do so!!!
    Cheryl W. Hamilton
    Goose Creek SC

    December 10, 2013 at 6:50 am | Reply
  6. Bitter

    The bands should stay away from the circus, Six Flags, the fair, etc. Don't just pick one place, and act so proud.

    December 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  7. Tracey Hack

    I live in Orlando and have been to Seaworld a lot. I leaned nothing about conservation to Orcas. No enrichment fir Orcas. I learned nothing from their shows except that orcas will do tricks for food. My pass has long since been ripped to shreds. Seaworld likes to make blanket statements about conservation but what animals benefit? Turtles, manatees- certainly not orcas. How stupid do they think the American public is? They were asked to be a part of the documentary and declined. That says volumes.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply

    Nick Gollattscheck I don't consider myself misinformed. I'm quite the opposite when it comes to these whales & other animals in captivity and the cruelty imposed on them by people/places such as SeaWorld. I do however know that only a cowardly character could make such a statement. You know you are lying & if you can live with yourself so be it... but don't include those of us struck with humanity & compassion in your pitiful existence by insulting us as being the misinformed ones.

    December 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  9. Daniella Rooslund

    A group of misinformed individuals? Have you seen Blackfish the documentary? Truth fuels those "misinformed individuals" while all Seaworld is fueled by is profits and greed. You can't possibly replicate the true home of an Orca to a shallow, concrete, sterile, sound proof tank. How many people actually know by going to Seaworld that there are more than just one type of Orca. For instance Transient Orcas eat marine mammals such as dolphin, seals and even whales. While Resident Orca eat primarily fish. These animals spend their entire lives with their families. The males off the coast of Washington State and BC never leave their mothers for their entire lives. Their whole world is social. Each pod has a complete different set of dialect, noises, clicks, whistles etc. They can swim up to 100 miles in one day. Now please tell me how many times they would have to circle their tiny tank at Seaworld for them to have achieved 100 miles? Its common sense. Its not crazy, irrational, misguided, tree hugging individuals its called knowing the difference between right and wrong and showing compassion. All this information and so much more is available right at your finger tips. Make the conscious decision to educate yourselves with the truth.

    December 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Reply

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