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Granny - Credit Capt Simon Pidcock Ocean EcoVenturesOn Mothers’ Day, folks on Vancouver Island got quite a treat when “Granny,” the world’s oldest known Orca, was spotted off the coast with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Experts put her age at about 103 – though the lifespan of an Orca is estimated at 60 to 90 years, much like that of a human.

While it was a joy to see Granny and her family out and about for the holiday weekend, her sighting caused animal rights activists to re-ignite their proactive communications campaign against SeaWorld. They claim SeaWorld has been knowingly lying about the Orcas living in captivity for decades, going so far as to get proof on camera in the 2013 documentary Blackfish.

According to SeaWorld, Orcas are lucky to live to 40 – and most of them don’t live past their 20s at SeaWorld. Granny, not to mention her children and grandchildren now ranging in age from 40 to 80 years old beg to differ.

I had the opportunity to visit Vancouver and several Orca-rich ports in Alaska last year, and even to see “Granny” with her family. Everyone on the ship was talking about Blackfish, so I downloaded it while on vacation, juxtaposing what SeaWorld was on record as saying about Orcas – including their PR people – versus what I was seeing with my own eyes and hearing from naturalists on board.

Humiliated that members of my own communications industry took part in SeaWorld’s alleged cover-ups for decades, I was motivated to write this when I returned from my trip.

Today, as I am less than a month from visiting Alaska – and hopefully seeing Granny – again, I write this:

Your client and company’s lies are yours – always investigate their claims before putting your reputation on the line in sharing them.

Don’t toe the company line if you KNOW something isn’t right. Stand up for yourself and what you believe.

Don’t be a “yes man.”

Don’t be afraid to blow the whistle.

I close with one hope – that next time SeaWorld wants to kidnap animals from their families and put them into captivity, they choose Great White Sharks. Then, to prove just how happy the sharks are in captivity, they stage a news conference with humans in the tanks with them. Methinks that will teach them, and good.

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

1 Comment

  1. Alison Bailin says:

    Some great discussion on Facebook regarding this topic. Posting Here:

    Stephanie Jarnagan: Do you know what agency reps Sea World?

    Alison Bailin Batz: No clue – never me though!

    Stacey Champion: Not in a million years for any amount of money.

    Bill Bertolino: Well said!

    Peter Faur: SeaWorld was a major client of mine when I worked for FleishmanHillard and it was owned by Anheuser-Busch. I admired the work they did then and I still do. Have you taken time to read its response to Blackfish? Check it out here: http://seaworld.com/en/truth/truth-about-blackfish/

    Peter Faur :Understand that I believe strongly in accredited zoos and aquariums. I’ve known many of the professionals who care for SeaWorld’s animal population, and they are competent, commited and concerned about animal welfare. I’m on the board of the Phoenix Zo…See More

    Bill Bertolino: There is no doubt, in my mind, that SeaWorld trainers are committed and concerned about animal welfare. Where we likely differ, Peter Faur is the fundamental question about whether these magnificent animals belong in confined spaces for the entirety of their life, especially as we make more scientific discoveries about their lifespan, family dynamics and intelligence.

    Stacey Champion: I agree with Bill. Though I’ve never visited Sea World because I disagree with its existence (but have taken my kids on whale watches) the separation scenes alone are enough for me. These are highly intelligent, communicative, family-bonding creatures…See More

    Stephanie Lough: I think it’s safe to say lots and lots of people are as fired up about this as you!

    Deb Krol: Writing from my perspective as a [sadly, only part-time] environmental journalist, I’m of two minds here. Although as a Native person I hate to see any animals locked up in zoos, the reality is that between global climate change, poaching, loss of habitats and poisoning of their environments, zoos and aquaria may be the only places where we can preserve species. Yes, it’s that bad out there.

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