Seaworld’s continued downhill trajectory peaked when four simple words were uttered by Harry Styles at a concert in July – “Don’t go to Seaworld”. Now the One Direction singer is being credited with stopping the theme park from obtaining 18 stolen Beluga whales. SeaWorld’s Georgia aquarium has issued a statement saying it will no longer take the whales.
There has been sustained negative publicity since Styles’ boycott call, preceded by the damning 2013 documentary “Blackfish”. Investment bank Credit Suisse conducted research which showed that Styles may have harmed SeaWorld’s reputation more than the film.
The controversial documentary exposed what they described as SeaWorld’s animal cruelty; whales were traumatised by being captured in the wild and then kept in cramped conditions, developing mental health conditions which led to the deaths of three SeaWorld staff members.
By drawing attention to the issue, the boycott has called out the theme park’s PR Campaign to reverse their fortunes and get people back through the gates. There has been a reported 84 per cent drop in profits due to declining attendance levels. After Styles spoke out, Credit Suisse reports there was a 400 per cent spike in social media mentions and a 13 per cent increase in negative media commentary month-over-month.
SeaWorld released a statement on its website stating, “SeaWorld has not collected a whale or dolphin from the wild in decades. To reaffirm that commitment, SeaWorld has informed the Georgia Aquarium that we will not accept any of the belugas listed on their NOAA Fisheries import permit application.”
Activists are pleased, citing the company’s admitted “change of heart” as reflecting the most crucial sign of an evolution in the company’s position since it first began.
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