Thousands of people flying this week to Comic-Con International will be greeted at San Diego International Airport by a large ad targeting SeaWorld.
The $24,000 display, produced by PETA and comics publisher Bluewater Productions, features a cartoon of an orca with the marine parks’ CEO gripped between its teeth, accompanied by the text, “He Will Let You Go If You Let Him Go.” It was installed today in Terminal 2.
“With 130,000 people coming into San Diego for Comic-Con, we couldn’t miss this opportunity to bring this image to people,” PETA Senior Vice President Dan Mathews told San Diego’s ABC 10 News.
Created by Bluewater, the cartoon has its roots in Blackfish, the 2013 documentary that focuses on Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld Orlando that was involved in the deaths of three people, and the larger controversy of captive killer whales. It’s the second anti-SeaWorld ad that PETA has installed at San Diego International.
“Comic-Con fans love blood and guts when they’re fake, but at SeaWorld, it’s all too real for comfort,” Bluewater founder Darren G Davis said in a statement. “The orcas are desperate to be free. That’s why trainers have been killed, and that’s what we’re depicting in this campaign with PETA.”
SeaWorld, which launched a website to confront the claims in Blackfish, responded to the cartoon with a statement that reads, in part, “Even by PETA’s standards, this ad is as offensive as it is tasteless. PETA isn’t concerned with actually helping animals. They are a radical organization that continues to spend its money on publicity stunts like the profane Jason Biggs video and advertising campaigns like this for the sole purpose of promoting their agenda. The truth is that our killer whales are healthy and happy, and thrive in our care.”
SeaWorld San Diego, which opened in 1964, was the first SeaWorld park. The company also has operations in San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Florida.