Pat Benatar and The Beach Boys cancel Busch Gardens performance over 'Blackfish' backlash

5:51 PM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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The Beach Boys pose in the photo room at the 2012 Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY contract photographer



Tampa, FL -- Just last week Busch Gardens said it was not feeling any backlash from Blackfish, a movie highly critical of SeaWorld, which is Busch Gardens' parent company.

This week it's a different story.

Despite its stingingly critical assessment of SeaWorld, Blackfish still did not stop theme park company from making a record $1.46 billion last year.

But the film has led to online petitions convincing some entertainers to cancel shows at SeaWorld properties. And now that includes Busch Gardens.

The Tampa theme park announced on Twitter that The Beach Boys and Pat Benatar have pulled out of their "2014 Bands Brew and BBQ" event.

"Disappointing," a Busch Gardens spokesperson said in a statement, "But still committed to bringing our guests a great festival."

"I think it's the right thing to do. I think that people are standing up for the animals," said Carlo De Leonibus from Lakeland.

Carlo says he's glad to see this happening because last July, just as Blackfish was released, Carlo was coincidentally shooting his own distressing SeaWorld video.

He posted it on YouTube and it went viral.

The video shows images of a pilot whale desperately struggling for several minutes to get back into the water, even as park visitors scream for SeaWorld workers to help.

See Also: Family shoots disturbing video at SeaWorld

His family has vowed never to return to SeaWorld again. His 12-year-old daughter was so traumatized, he says, that she is considering a career path involving the humane treatment of animals.

And since Busch Gardens is owned by the same company, he thinks the theme park is fair game for critics.

"Because they are associated as a company," he said, "And I think it will get the message across to SeaWorld."

A SeaWorld company statement calls the organized criticism of SeaWorld a "digital harassment campaign enacted by animal activists."

There's been no word yet from Busch Gardens on whether they intend to replace the acts that have canceled or whom that may be.

Blackfish tells the story of the killing of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca in 2010. It raises questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity.

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