It has been a year of bad press for SeaWorld and more fuel has just been added to the fire. The family destination has been turning fans of the park to foes after a recent video went viral.
The video shows a pilot whale (a member of the dolphin family), straining to get back into the water. The animal tried, without help of trainers or staff members, for about 30 minutes while patrons watched in horror. The video was captured by Carlo De Leonibus, while he, his wife, and daughter were at the Orlando park to celebrate her 11th birthday.
De Leonibus posted the video to his YouTube channel a week ago. He said the pilot whale had been stranded for 10 minutes, maybe more, when he went to get a member of staff for help. He recalls the staff member “said everything was just fine, the dolphin was just playing. We teach them to do that, to roll back in the water themselves.”
After realizing that the staffer wasn't going to do anything, De Leonibus went back and recorded the video with his cell phone. "I went back to the bleachers and began recording. What I saw, changed my view of SeaWorld [forever]. The crowd becomes furious, yelling to save the dolphin. After an additional 10-15 minutes after my recording they sent two dolphin trainers in to push the dolphin back in."
A representative for SeaWorld, Nick Gollattscheck told the Huffington Post Monday, "The younger and more inexperienced animals – like the one on the video – sometimes take a little longer to find their way back to the water because they haven’t completely mastered the technique yet. When this happens the animal is constantly monitored by our animal trainers. The whale was never in danger. In fact, the pilot whales are trained to swim onto the ledge so we can monitor their growth and give them veterinary care."
Twitter has been abuzz about SeaWorld after the release of the film, Blackfish, in January, and these recent events has caused a rise in the hashtag 'BoycottSeaWorld.'
— krysten ritter (@Krystenritter) July 30, 2013
— ilaria urbinati (@ilariaurbinati) July 30, 2013
— Alannah Kearney (@balletgirl345) July 30, 2013