You probably already know that SeaWorld will stop breeding orcas in captivity and plans to phase out its iconic killer whale shows. SeaWorld also entered into a groundbreaking partnership with The Humane Society of the United States to devote additional resources to animal protection work.
It’s a massive victory for many animal advocates who spent years campaigning for these changes -- and the Change.org community was a big part of this movement.
Here are 10 Change.org petitions that helped pressure SeaWorld to change the way it does business:
1. Thousands of music fans called on Willie Nelson to cancel a concert at SeaWorld. He went live on CNN to confirm he pulled out of the show due to ethical concerns raised on a Change.org petition. Several other musicians including Martina McBride, Heart, Trisha Yearwood, and REO Speedwagon also cancelled their shows after pressure from subsequent petitions.
2. Whale and Dolphin Conservation petitioned Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, to end Virgin Holidays promotions of SeaWorld trips. While it was not a victory, the pressure led to high-level meetings and a new cetacean policy from Virgin. Virgin America later ended promotions of SeaWorld.
3. A UK resident started a petition asking British Airways to stop selling holiday packages to SeaWorld. More than 275,000 supporters joined the petition and British Airways was compelled to defend their position to the public.
4. A large campaign against another SeaWorld partner, American Express, has more than 75,000 signatures. While it’s not an official victory you’ll have a tough time finding AmEx promoting this partnership.
5. Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld gave in to months of pressure from a Change.org petition when they ended a long-standing partnership. Southwest issued this decision maker response when the petition was launched and also accepted the petition signatures from local advocates who delivered them to their headquarters as part of a rally!
7. Controversy and a petition around a local Taco Bell franchise’s promotions for SeaWorld created so much buzz that Taco Bell’s corporate office got involved. After some negotiations and assurances that Taco Bell had no plans to do any national promotions, the campaign was called off.
8. The Orlando Sentinel said Mattel stopped making a controversial SeaWorld Barbie doll after pressure which included petitions on Change.org.
9. More than 225,000 people are still holding on to hope that SeaWorld will release Tilikum, featured in Blackfish, from captivity.
10. After convincing her class to cancel a visit to SeaWorld, Phoebe Goldstein started a petition urging all SeaWorld locations to end orca performances. She won!
The fact that some of these petitions reached victory doesn’t mean the end of the controversy around keeping animals in confinement for entertainment. In fact, this is just a sample of how members of the public, on all sides of the debate, engaged with hundreds of SeaWorld petitions on Change.org’s platform.
The tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, the release of the documentary Blackfish, Ringling Bros’ announcement that it was ending elephant acts, and California Coastal Commission’s decision to put a breeding restriction on a proposed SeaWorld construction project in San Diego all played a significant role in this change.
However, when we look back at the history of the animal protection movement, public concern amplified through Change.org will be part of the reason SeaWorld recognized that there’s an uncertain future for entertainment companies who keep animals in captivity.
Pulin Modi is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org.
Do you want to be a part of the next big animal protection movement?
Here are some other campaigns that might interest you:
- Thousands of consumers want Publix and H-E-B to adopt a cage-free egg policy
- Pass the Paws Act to protect pets from domestic violence
- Free Morgan the Orca