ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Animal rights activists protested outside SeaWorld on Sunday, just two days after the theme park launched a counterattack over claims that it mistreats its Orca whales.
A long line of cars entering SeaWorld Sunday morning were met with a string of protesters.
"We hope SeaWorld will realize what they're doing is wrong. Having large animals like this in captivity is torture and slavery and that there's other ways they can keep their theme park going," protestor Peri Sedigh said.
The protest comes just days after SeaWorld placed full-page ads in eight U.S. newspapers in response to criticism of its treatment of killer whales. The company said the ad corrects "inaccurate reports."
The ad didn't specifically mention the "Blackfish" documentary, which chronicled the captivity of the killer whale that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
In response to Sunday's protest, SeaWorld said "There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld. The protesters' claims and accusations are without merit."
"SeaWorld expects everyone to just buy whatever line they put out. But if they truly were a research and rehabilitation facility, they wouldn't be breeding animals in captivity and they would be trying to have animals captured by other organizations," Brian Wilson with Animal Rights Foundation of Florida said.
Park officials also said the dozens of protesters don't compare to the hundreds of supporters who have contacted them and the thousands of guests visiting the park.
"For my younger kids it's educational, definitely it is. I've never seen a shark up close so I want to see that for sure," Canadian tourist Uzma Kazi said.
The protesters said they'll continue to fight SeaWorld until something changes.
"If SeaWorld wants to be an entertainment complex they should focus on the rides and the human actors, leave the animals out of it," Wilson said.