(CNN) -- Maybe it's not surprising that in SeaWorld's hometown of Orlando, an online poll showed overwhelming support for the theme park in light of a recent documentary that has raised questions about its treatment of killer whales.
What has turned heads, though, is the fact that more than half of the votes appeared to have come from a computer, or computers, at SeaWorld itself.
On December 31, the Orlando Business Journal posted an unscientific poll asking, "Has CNN's 'Blackfish' documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?"
By midday Thursday, the paper reported, an overwhelming 99% of respondents said "no," their opinion of the beloved park had not changed.
What the Journal discovered upon a closer look, though, was that 54% of those 328 votes had been cast from a single Internet Protocol (IP) address.
An IP address is an identifier that can represent either a single computer or a connected network of them.
Did #SeaWorld stuff ballots for '#Blackfish' poll? We're all watching you! @Seaworld http://t.co/09bvxxHmfA— The Cove/OPS (@CoveMovie_OPS) January 3, 2014
OBJ was just cited on @CNN talking about @OBJUpdate's @SeaWorld/#Blackfish poll. Catch @RichOBJ's full story here: http://t.co/aSeHI0eGaa— OrlandoBizJournal (@OBJUpdate) January 3, 2014
At Voice of the Orcas we're familiar with SeaWorld's heavy handed tactics. When we worked in the animal training department, "waterwork" was routinely used as a tool to train employee compliance, like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. According to David Kirby's investigative journalism for his book Death at SeaWorld, it was even used by senior trainers to obtain sexual favors for those one day hoping to "ride Shamu." Although we never witnessed this personally, it is in line with the culture, and a lawsuit was filed.
[For reference, we've learned that Death at SeaWorld is in it's 5th printing in the United States, and is sold out of it's sixth printing in the United Kingdom].
We once strove to work with the #Blackfish at Shamu Stadium and noticed that those who didn't pull the company line were "shipped to Sea Lion & Otter," or withheld from waterwork, or terminated. Hence, we are thankful that Blackfish & Death at SeaWorld have pulled back the curtain on SeaWorld's business model, which includes incarcerating cetaceans, polar bears, and pinnepeds, for profit. Through it's massive public relations team, this corporation has been selling the "Happy Shamu" mythology for five decades. Please watch the CNN report below for more on this first story:
The second demonstration of corporate malfeasance (in the past 24 hrs) has to do with censorship at F-O-R-B-E-S magazine. After he "rattled some corporate cages" by writing a pro-Blackfish article viewed 77 thousand time, Forbes journalist James McWilliams was censored, and resigned his position; in his words:
Well folks, I suppose it was bound to happen. I wrote a dozen pieces for Forbes.com and enjoyed it very much. But the 13th–an article critical of SeaWorld (a 2.5 billion dollar company partially owned by the Blackstone Group) and praiseworthy of ‘Blackfish” (made on a small budget)–rattled some corporate cages.
After I posted, editorial management demanded changes that I could not, in good conscience, make. So the article got pulled (after 77,000 hits in one day) and I left my position. Honestly, the experience, brief as it was, was a good one. Until today, when it wasn’t. My immediate editor was terrific.
But, in the end, McWilliams and Forbes.com: mismatch.
The author, James McWilliams can be reached at @the_pitchfork. Here are a just few reactions at his blog, where he has republished the original article.