Despite plummeting profits and negative PR, the controversial marine park is trying to head for the Middle East
After the release of 2013 film Blackfish, a documentary that exposed the alleged mistreatment of captive orcas, SeaWorld has suffered a shocking decline in standing. Profits are reported to be down by 84 per cent, a drop that the company attributes to "continued brand challenges".
Despite a fall in grace in America and waves of protests against its continued existence, the company is seeking to expand. SeaWorld reportedly hopes to have a park open in Dubai by 2020 and confirmed in May that it’s signed a tentative deal to build a new park in the Middle East.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, "Seaworld has signed a memorandum of understanding with a partner to 'assess the viability of a multi-park development in the Middle East, with an established track record of opening and operating world-class attractions.'" Sounds like Dubai, right?
Melanie Barrett wants to make sure that this doesn’t happen. In conjunction with Care 2, a social networking site for activism, Barrett has launched a petition calling on the Government of Dubai to prevent SeaWorld from opening a park in the Middle East.
"You should not tarnish your great reputation by allowing SeaWorld to open a SeaWorld park in Dubai," the petition states. "SeaWorld is already one of the worst examples of wild animal abuse in the history of the United States and SeaWorld should not be allowed to exist in Dubai as well. SeaWorld is absolutely barbaric in terms of what they are doing to these poor marine animals they have in captivity at their theme parks."
We reached out to Barrett to ask about her campaign to shut down SeaWorld. "I think Dubai has a lot of power because they have a lot of money thus SeaWorld, with it’s sinking stock and terrible image in the USA, is looking to move overseas," says Barrett.
"SeaWorld’s executives are assuming people in the Middle East don't care about animals but 10 per cent of the signatures on my petition are from people living in the UAE. The signatures on my petition are literally from around the world and everyone says the same thing – 'wildlife needs to be in the wild, not in a tank'. This is barbaric. How would you like it if someone kidnapped your child and trapped them in a tank their entire life? Watch Blackfish. SeaWorld isn’t luxurious. It's just sad."