All’s Whale, Ends Whale: Southwest ditches Seaworld alliance

Photo by Robert Pitman (NOAA)

Killer Whales in the Wild where the belog: Photo by Robert Pitman (NOAA)

We at Roads-2-Roam have long had a problem with SeaWorld’s fundamental business model where we consider it a sad and cruel attraction. Until recently, we lived in San Antonio but refused out of principle to take our family or visitors there.

After seeing the movie Blackfish, it only added to our distaste.

We are pleased to see that Southwest is not renewing their advertising contract with SeaWorld where it will no longer feature “Shamu” on their planes. From U-T San Diego:

Southwest and SeaWorld, which has marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, insist that the decision was a mutual one, predicated on “shifting priorities” by both companies.

Both issued the same statement:

“Southwest and SeaWorld have mutually decided not to renew their partnership when the contract expires at the end of the year,” they said. “Our promotional marketing relationship began in 1988 and was one of the first of its kind – focused on co-marketing opportunities between Southwest passengers and SeaWorld visitors.

Just for record, SeaWorld has a counter response to Blackfish but it doesn’t change our opinion that it is a fundamentally cruel attraction.

National Geographic Opinion piece by Kenneth Brower, talks about the film and gives some more details behind the story and SeaWorld:

“Only once in history has a killer whale killed a human,” I wrote. “That incident, in which Tilikum, a captive whale in British Columbia, pinned his trainer to the pool bottom, drowning her, is generally deemed to have been horseplay, just a misunderstanding, a simple failure of the whale to appreciate the difference between human breath-hold capacity and his own.”

This was the explanation put forth by SeaWorld, which had bought Tilikum from Sealand of the Pacific after he killed that first trainer, 20-year-old Keltie Byrne. (Sealand, which immediately went out of business as a consequence of Keltie’s death, needed to liquidate its assets. Its orcas Haida II and her baby Kyuquot went to SeaWorld San Antonio. Nootka IV and Tilikum went to SeaWorld Orlando.) I had sense enough to question the horseplay theory. SeaWorld is a multibillion-dollar enterprise entirely dependent on the draw of its killer whales—orcas with reputations as playful and lovable, not murderous. I had little doubt the story had heavy spin.

The UK’s Guardian also has good analysis of Blackfish vs SeaWorld which tells of musicians such as Willie Nelson cancelling their gigs : Stoned Willie supports Free Willy.

Our dislike of SeaWorld boils down to the simple fact that we find it distasteful that such intelligent creatures are held captive in such small tanks for little kid’s entertainment. If you want to see them, go witness them in the wild in places like San Juan Islands in Washington state. By the way, Washington State banned SeaWorld from State waters due to their Whale collection policies.

Roads-2-Roam commends the move by Southwest and we will continue to not recommend SeaWorld as an attraction.


Head Emperor of Roam. Originally born Gaius Octavius in 63BC, Augustus has great deal of experience running empires, dealing with civil wars, subdueing barbarian tribes and that sort of thing. Currently living in Katy, Texas, Mr Caesar is the architect of modern day Roam with aspirations of starting up a new virtual empire. In his spare time Augustus is a family man.