Internal Emails Reveal SeaWorld Executives’ Vexation Over ‘Blackfish’ Backlash

Just days after SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. published a 2017 third quarter report displaying attendance and revenue losses which cited reputation difficulties, new information has been made public regarding their ongoing litigation with former investors.

A lawsuit filed in 2014 by former investors, which the U.S. department of Justice became involved with in August of 2017, makes the claim that SeaWorld willfully mislead shareholders about the effects of the critical documentary Blackfish on the company’s financial status. Internal emails between SeaWorld executives have just been filed with court documents that give the public a better understanding of what company higher-ups really thought during the aftermath of the film.

Here is a sample of the emails included, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel:

  • December of 2013 – Fred Jacobs, former SeaWorld corporate communications vice president, after performer Willie Nelson’s refused to play at one of their parks: “This whole [expletive] thing [expletive] me off.”, “God we look like idiots.”
  • Donnie Mills, former park president of the Orlando parks: “The impact of our detractors has found its way to caterings.”, “To date we have 6 cancellations.”
  • Jim Atchison, former chief executive officer of SeaWorld: “Frustrating …”
  • Christmas Eve, 2013 – Nick Gollattscheck, a former SeaWorld spokesman, in reference to the company’s attempt at flooding an Orlando Sentinel poll related to Blackfish: “Let’s keep flooding it. Have also heard if you click ‘no,’ (then) click on ’vote’ multiple times, it will count multiples votes. Like a hundred or so.”, “Happy holidays and keep voting. Ho ho vote.”

The company admitted the documentary’s negative impact in August of 2014; many of the included emails were written at the tail end of 2013 or early 2014, months before SeaWorld’s public disclosure. According to the emails, SeaWorld executives confidentially tallied losses due to Blackfish in January of 2014.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel

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