Southwest Airlines Won't End Its SeaWorld Partnership

SouthwestShamu.jpg
Rudi Riet
SeaWorld has taken a bit of a beating recently as the backlash from CNN's Blackfish documentary, which lays bare the cruel folly of keeping killer whales in captivity and forcing them to entertain the masses. To a lesser extent, so has Southwest Airlines, which has a longstanding partnership with the aquatic amusement park, going so far as to paint certain aircraft like Shamu.

The push-back against Southwest came to a head today when protestors arrived at its Dallas headquarters today to deliver a Change.org petition demanding that the airline cut ties with SeaWorld. To wit:

If you've seen the film Blackfish, you already know that SeaWorld has a long history of abusing animals and covering up injuries sustained by trainers. Southwest Airlines has been a cheerleader for this cruelty by partnering with SeaWorld for 25 years -- offering deals on flights and promotions to customers who attend SeaWorld. Now that SeaWorld's inhumane practices are in the spotlight, I'm asking the airline to stop partnering with SeaWorld immediately.

Alas, Southwest isn't unmoved by the 27,000 animal rights activists who signed the online petition. It has "heard your concerns and we do not take them lightly," the company wrote today on its blog, but it will not budge.

"We have a longstanding relationship with SeaWorld that is based on travel and bringing families together," the blog post continues. "We are engaged with SeaWorld related to the recent concerns being raised. We are in a listening and education mode with the goal of upholding our commitments as a good corporate citizen."

The answer left petition-starter Robin Merritt deeply unsatisfied. She called the response "disheartening," then lays down the gauntlet.

"I hope Southwest will stop cheer-leading SeaWorld's cruelty just like many artists including Willie Nelson, Martina McBride and Heart have already done."

That's right, Southwest. Even Heart has more moral courage than you. Time to take a good look in the mirror.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

My Voice Nation Help
41 comments
lebowski300
lebowski300

As compelling an issue of the animal abuse, Blackfish raised, I truly felt it was more about the perilous exploitation of the trainers. And that, no matter how you feel about the animals involved, is not very debatable.

Threeboys
Threeboys

I may fly on SWA more now.  Especially to San Antonio, to go to Sea World.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Glad SW told the animal rights nutjobs to take a hike.  


I have no problem with the use of captive animals for profit.  Comparing them to human inmates or slaves is self-beclowning.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Change.org presented a petition 'signed' by 25,000 people. How do you think that effects Southwest's bottom line compared to 25,000 people that paid for a ticket?

I've been a stockholder almost 30 years. Flown on a couple of the Shamu planes.

I miss Herb.    

Catbird
Catbird

Maybe the SWA "dorsal" will start to droop and curl over like Tillie's. ;-( 

Threeboys
Threeboys

Cudos to SWA for not backing down.

angelampatterson
angelampatterson

Get over it people. The airplane is cute -- and has a pretty good on-time record.

lebowski300
lebowski300

I'm shopping an airline ticket this month, and I just struck Southwest Airline off the list.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

Really, I'm encouraged by this backlash against animal captivity. In so many instances, we've seen what happens to the animals, which are simply being exploited for profit. Elephants rampaging, big cats killing and maiming trainers, apes and monkeys living shortened, miserable lives. Supporters of animal captivity bang the drum of "conservation" as it relates to zoos and animal parks, but what's the cost to these individual beings?


I hope the public clamor to end such barbaric practices will be extended to zoos and animal parks, as well. My parents took me to these places when I was a child in the 70s and 80s, but much has come to light since then and I won't support them by taking my children.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

I agree, the days of captive Orcas and dolphins is coming to a close. Wanna see 'em? Hop on a boat or rent the DVD.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

What cover band was Heart supposed to open for?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@roo_ster You'd probably have gleefully taken part in the bloody "round-ups" they've done to capture wild orcas, separating calves from mothers.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_steryou should review the incidents where Orcas have killed their trainers and acted out.  Your very argument was used against Blacks.  I don't know if we'll extend such rights to mammals, but it's possible.


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@NewsDog You seem to make the assumption that no one who "signs" a Change.org petition also chooses between air carriers. This Sea World affiliation could quickly turn into a liability thanks to continuing bad PR.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@NewsDogI miss Herb too, hopefully my dealer will make his connection soon


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@Threeboys Yeah, because big companies should ignore their customers when their customers point out the fact the company is supporting not only the unethical treatment of aquatic mammals, but the numerous cover-ups of incidents where trainers have been killed or injured by said mammals.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

@lebowski300I added them TO my list because I don't want them to back down in the face of some slanted propaganda.  I LUV SW.

lebowski300
lebowski300

@CogitoErgoSum Every response is not a "backlash". Sometimes it is just a response. If the stockholders make more money by associating the brand with animal abuse, then it was the right decision. And if they make less, it was the wrong decision. SWA goal is to make money, not do the right thing.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@CogitoErgoSum the documentary shed a spotlight on what goes on with the orcas. Even though we live in Dallas, we've had season passes on more than one occasion, we make frequent visits to family in SA. 

I'm conflicted as my kids enjoy seeing the animals yet after watching the documentary it's hard to have a clear conscious about it.


This is also a big catch-22. I'm a meat eater, I love steaks, burgers, chicken, pork, etc. If I actually watched documentaries on the treatment and slaughter of animals for food, would I feel the same way and stop eating meat?


Have any of you with kids below the age of 8 allowed them to see the doc? It's on Netflix and I only know that because my kids stumbled across it. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

@CogitoErgoSum@roo_ster 

Nope.

I am not fond or working at sea or on boats.  Which makes Sea World a great place to see these critters in the flesh.


OTOH, I have worked with hoofed livestock in the past.  Separating young from their mothers is no big whoop on the road from birth to slaughter.  I can assure you that glee was not the overriding emotion.  Usually too danged hot for glee.  More like grim determination to get the job done.



roo_ster
roo_ster

@scottindallas@roo_sterYou might have a point if killer whales were humans.  But they are not, so you are merely an animal rights fruitcake. 


Also, Hitler was overly fond of animals. You don't want to be like Hitler, do you?

Threeboys
Threeboys

@CogitoErgoSum@Threeboys

A very, very small minority of their customers.


According to DMN, SWA had 108,000,000 paying passengers (not individual, total) in 2013. 27,000 signatures adds up to 2 ten thousanths of 1 percent.


If every business acted on the complaints of that miniscule portion of their customer base, they wouldn't be in business long.

lebowski300
lebowski300

@AdamsonScott I completely concur with your reasoning. I even agree that the swelling sentiment against Seaworld is a form of propaganda. Where I disagree with you is that I find the truth underlying the propaganda very compelling...and perhaps not what you might assume. When I first watched the Blackfish documentary, out loud I said, "Why is OSHA getting involved with this super-isolated shit of trainer safety; what a waste of time and money." But as the verifiable facts came out about how many trainers were utilized by Seaworld at the numerous facilities over the decades, it staggered me that it was such a viable profession to be a trainer. And, as verifiable court documents illuminated as brightly as many of the trainers articulated the concealed and/or misinformation transmitted to that staff put them and continues to put them in unnecessary peril. So, regardless of the animal abuse versus animal use argument, they are god awful employer that systematically refuses to even acknowledge let alone mitigate (without legal action imposing it) the unnecessary perilous risks they place a significant number of its staff.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@AdamsonScott @lebowski300 

You can support SWA but at the same time be a rational person.

1. Do you believe these animals live a better life in captivity? I'd compare it more to prison where the inmates are kept in a cage and allowed to move around during certain parts of the day.

2. Do you believe that their health doesn't deteriorate in captivity? In their natural environment, there's little research that shows the dorsal fin just starts to fall over, the way it does to most of the whales in captivity. I remarked to my wife after we took the kids there during Christmas how you can tell which whales are younger or newer because their fins are erect.

3. Do you believe that whales birthed on location get to stay with their mothers for a few years? They might get to now that this documentary is out. See the prison comparison above, how if a prisoner gave birth, the baby would be taken away from her.



ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@AdamsonScott Im glad they are not backing down too, but its not slanted propaganda either.  It is a fact that we are harming these animals we keep in captivity.  

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@lebowski300 @CogitoErgoSum Semantics. A backlash is a negative response to something. This fits the bill. Agreed about SWA being like most other companies and only caring about the bottom line. Hopefully, they will see the association ain't worth the potential effect on the bottom line.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

I was raised in and around the ocean, I'm there right now. it has nothing to do with my politics, which don't condone animal abuse anyway.

I've not seen the documentary.

sarah
sarah

@CogitoErgoSum it's really, really seldom that someone is actually going to book a more expensive flight for any reason, even if (for instance) one airline's flying experience is much nicer than the other. People not booking for ethical reasons is going to be an extremely tiny portion of potential passengers.


All most passengers really care about is the price.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@Threeboys@ColonelAngus@CogitoErgoSum Granted, but you would have to admit that those are exceptions that prove the rule.  Nonetheless it is great to see common sense prevail once in a while, although in the case of Duck Dynasty it was obviously the threat of lost revenue that trumped political correctness.

Threeboys
Threeboys

@CogitoErgoSum@Threeboys Don't disagree that there is a larger number than the 27k, but still rather small in regards to their total flyer universe.


And no, I haven't seen because I don't care about the plight of the orca.


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@Threeboys @CogitoErgoSum These are only the most vocal of those who have a negative opinion of SWA for this association. Rest assured there are many more who have seen this documentary (have you?) and would keep this in mind when choosing carriers. This is still ramping up, with news outlets putting out more and more coverage. The liability factor is still on the rise.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@Threeboys@CogitoErgoSum

"If every business acted on the complaints of that miniscule portion of their customer base, they wouldn't be in business long."


Threeboys, the strategy seems to be working quite well for the gay lobby.

lebowski300
lebowski300

@DirtyP1 Why are you saying I am supporting SWA? All I said was, SWA airlines believes in the business value or their relationship to Seaworld and that I disagreed and demonstrated exactly why. I am not going to answer your silly questions/suppositions because they aren't relevant. Bottom line: SWA thinks it is good business. I disagree.

sarah
sarah

@CogitoErgoSum I'm pretty sure they evaluated it and decided that the PR department could handle it.


I wasn't there, but let's just say I have a really, really, really easy time imagining how the discussion went. Based on past experiences.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

But the public *doesn't* disapprove - just a small number of people who were subjected to slanted propaganda.  The vast majority of the hundreds of millions of Americans love SeaWorld and are fine with SeaWorld's stewardship.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@ScottsMerkin @AdamsonScott If it's true that Southwest is supporting the harm done to these animals, why shouldn't they reconsider their support? Trying to understand your logic, here. Should companies like SW not be held accountable for their affiliations, and perhaps re-evaluate said affiliations when they learn the public disapproves?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...