ORLANDO, Fla. — The rock bands Heart and Barenaked Ladies along with country singer Willie Nelson have canceled their planned performances at SeaWorld in Florida, citing a recent documentary that raises questions about the effects of captivity on whales.
Heart was the latest act in the past week to cancel appearances at SeaWorld Orlando’s Bands, Brew & Barbecue music series in February, making their announcement over the weekend. The series is held over several weekends and features top classic rock and country acts.
A posting on Heart’s official Twitter page said the decision was influenced by the recently-released documentary “Blackfish.” The documentary raises questions about the effects of captivity on killer whales at marine parks such as SeaWorld.
Nelson and Barenaked Ladies made their decisions after fans launched Change.org petitions urging them not to perform at SeaWorld.
SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said in a statement that marine park officials respect the performers’ decisions but added that they were disappointed that “a small group of misinformed individuals” was able to influence the performers.
“The bands and artists have a standing invitation to visit any of our parks to see firsthand or to speak to any of our animal experts to learn for themselves how we care for animals and how little truth there is to the allegations made by animal extremist groups opposed to the zoological display of marine mammals,” Gollattscheck said.
“Blackfish” explores what may have caused Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca, to kill three people, including veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. She was killed when Tilikum pulled her into a pool. The documentary released this year chronicles past incidences of killer whales in captivity acting aggressively toward human trainers and other orcas.