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Busch Gardens concerts canceled amid SeaWorld controversy


Published:   |   Updated: January 16, 2014 at 06:36 AM

Two musical acts have canceled appearances at Busch Gardens in Tampa, part of an ongoing controversy between SeaWorld Entertainment and animal activists.

The Beach Boys and Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have called off shows at Bands, Brew & BBQ, a yearly event at the Tampa amusement park.

In the statement, SeaWorld Entertainment added, “It’s disappointing that a digital harassment campaign enacted by animal activists led to denying thousands of fans what would have been two exciting concerts, but we’re committed to bringing our guests a great festival.”

The Beach Boys and Benatar are following the lead of several musical acts, including Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, 38 Special, Barenaked Ladies, Willie Nelson and Heart, who have canceled shows at SeaWorld Orlando in response to “Blackfish,” a documentary that explores what may have caused a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum to kill veteran SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

The documentary argues that killer whales, when in captivity, become more aggressive to humans and each other.

SeaWorld has defended its practices. It took out newspaper ads said that the marine park company hasn’t taken a wild killer whale into captivity for 35 years due to its successful breeding program. It also said that SeaWorld doesn’t separate killer whale mothers and calves and that the company has invested $70 million over the past three years in its parks’ killer whale habitats. The company also characterized the film in a statement this summer as “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate.”

The controversy has yet to affect the park’s bottom line, however. On Monday, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. it expects to report 2013 revenue of about $1.46 billion for the year, which it says would mark an annual record for the theme park operator.

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