SeaWorld Controversy: Major Win Celebrated in Canceling Florida Theme Park

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A sea lion on a rock by a pool at SeaWorld Orlando

Credit: SeaWorld

Animal rights group PETA celebrated a major win in its ongoing mission to cancel marine theme parks such as SeaWorld Orlando.

While most people first became aware of animal rights activists fighting SeaWorld with the release of Blackfish (2013), the documentary is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tragic though the life and suffering of Tilikum – the killer whale who famously killed two humans, including trainer Dawn Brancheau, during his time at SeaWorld Orlando – may be, PETA has collected receipts on the alleged wrongdoings of SeaWorld theme parks for decades.

Killer whales during Orca Encounter at SeaWorld Orlando
Credit: SeaWorld

Related: Is SeaWorld Getting Rid of Its Killer Whales?

This isn’t totally without results. As public pressure against the use of marine mammals for entertainment has mounted, SeaWorld has made several major changes. In 2016, it declared the official end of its orca breeding program, meaning the current generation of whales in its parks will be the last.

It’s also retired its theatrical orca shows, made its latest theme park – SeaWorld Abu Dhabi – totally orca-free, and started embracing thrills and attractions over animals.

However, that doesn’t mean PETA’s taking its foot off the pedal just yet. The group continues to push for parkgoers to say no to SeaWorld – including those who are paid to be there.

SeaWorld Orlando to Open Their Newest Thrill Ride Next Month
Credit: SeaWorld

Last week, it was reported that singer Jason Derulo had canceled a planned performance at SeaWorld, for which PETA is now taking credit.

“Jason Derulo is ridin’ solo—away from SeaWorld!” it wrote in a public statement. “After hearing from PETA that the notorious abusement park sexually abuses dolphins and whales by forcibly impregnating them—and that more than 40 orcas have died, many prematurely, in SeaWorld’s tanks—the singer quickly pulled out of an upcoming concert during the Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld Orlando.”

Kudos to @jasonderulo for ending his support for #SeaWorld’s abuse & exploitation by canceling his show! It’s artists like him who inspire positive change! 👏🌊 🐬

The group added that it had sent Derulo a “SeaWorld Sucks” T-shirt, dolphin-shaped vegan fruit snacks, and a stuffed toy dolphin for his son as a note of appreciation.

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman later added: “Jason Derulo made the right call in refusing to endorse SeaWorld’s body count with a performance. People will continue to turn their backs on SeaWorld as long as it relies on animal exploitation, which is why PETA is calling on the park to move the dolphins and whales it holds captive to seaside sanctuaries.”

Entrance to SeaWorld Orlando, Florida theme park
Credit: SeaWorld

Derulo had been scheduled to perform at SeaWorld Orlando on April 21 as a part of the park’s Seven Seas Food Festival. It briefly addressed Derulo’s cancelation on X (formerly known as Twitter) in response to a guest questioning why he had been removed from the lineup.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Jason Derulo will not be performing at the SeaWorld Orlando Seven Seas Food Festival concert lineup on Sunday, April 21st,” it wrote. “We’re excited to announce a new performer soon. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.” It later unveiled country musician Chris Young as Derulo’s replacement.


SeaWorld Orlando isn’t the only marine theme park suffering a cancelation campaign in Florida right now. Further south, the Miami Seaquarium has sparked controversy (yes, even more controversy than usual) after failing to close by the deadline given on its eviction notice from Miami-Dade County. The park was formally evicted in March due to repeat violations of its lease, which requires it to give appropriate care to its animal residents.

How do you feel about visiting SeaWorld Orlando? Let us know in the comments!

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