'Blackfish' director 'inspired' by artists canceling SeaWorld shows

Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:54pm EST
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The director of "Blackfish," a documentary that raises questions about the treatment of whales used in performances at SeaWorld, said on Tuesday she was heartened by a number of musicians canceling shows at the Florida theme park over the film.

"I'm very inspired by it," director Gabriela Cowperthwaite told Reuters.

"Blackfish," which aired nationally on CNN in October, makes a case against keeping orcas in captivity for entertainment. SeaWorld has called the film "inaccurate and misleading."

Rocker Joan Jett on Monday became the fourth musician or musical group to show support for a campaign led by animal-rights activists by asking SeaWorld to stop using her 1981 hit "I Love Rock 'n Roll" as opening music for the theme park's "Shamu Rocks," an evening version of the killer whale show.

Jett's demand followed decisions by country singer Willie Nelson and rock bands Barenaked Ladies and Heart to withdraw from the theme park's Bands, Brew & BBQ event on weekends starting February 1.

Jett threatened to join a protest by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) outside the park unless she received written confirmation that her music would no longer be used, according to her letter to SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison posted on PETA's website.

"I'm among the millions who saw 'Blackfish' and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals," Jett wrote. "These intelligent and feeling creatures communicate by sonar and are driven crazy in the tiny tanks in which they are confined."

SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said Jett's song was fully licensed and previously played - but no longer in use - as walk-on music for the Shamu show.   Continued...