Ever since the documentary Blackfish pulled back the curtain on the lives of captive orcas, SeaWorld has seen some serious backlash. Corporate sponsors such as Hyundai Motor America, Panama Jack, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America have cut ties with the company, celebs have distanced themselves, and attendance is down.
Now, the latest organization to end its partnership with the theme park is the Miami Dolphins. Come March, the team's contract with SeaWorld will run out, and it won't be renewed.
According to PETA, the breakup is due to the animal rights organization's influence, but a representative for the football team wouldn't give a specific reason.
Jason Jenkins, Miami Dolphins senior vice president of communications and community affairs, confirmed to New Times that the partnership will end, though he explained it is not an early termination.
The contract between the organizations ends in March, and it will not be renewed.
As recently as last year, the team offered SeaWorld incentives to boost season ticket sales, and animal rights advocates circulated a petition to get the Dolphins to cease the practice.
PETA Foundation's Director of Animal Law, Jared Goodman offered a statement about the organization's involvement with the situation, saying:
"They may not be going to the Super Bowl, but the NFL's Miami Dolphins are still champs in our book. After meeting with PETA, the team ended its partnership with SeaWorld. It will no longer offer discounted admission to Dolphins ticket holders or hold contests with trips to SeaWorld as prizes. The Dolphins join a growing list of former corporate partners -- including Hyundai Motor America, Panama Jack, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America -- that have cut ties with the park. As the company's profits continue to sink and more partners sever ties, it's clear that the growing public opposition to keeping animals in captivity has forever changed the game for SeaWorld."
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SeaWorld also confirmed the development in its own statement: "SeaWorld had a marketing sponsorship contract with the Miami Dolphins, which was for three seasons. Due to shifting business priorities of both companies, a new one will not be created. The Dolphins were great partners, and we wish them well this off season."
Jenkins wouldn't comment about the situation with Lolita, the Miami Seaquarium's 40-year orca resident that lives in a tank of substandard size, but with 1,000 people showing up to march for her release last weekend, clearly this is a timely issue.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.