Note: A SeaWorld rep argues that the event is not being skipped since its attendance has been irregular. See more details at the bottom.
SeaWorld's stock prices and attendance numbers have deflated, apparently, as a result of criticism from the PETA-promoted Shamu documentary Blackfish.
The park in summer announced the expansion of its orca whale captivity pools, a move widely believed to be a response to the criticism. Now PETA is gloating again because SeaWorld is absent from the just-announced Rose Parade float lineup, which has featured the San Diego park's entries for years.
Last January police said they arrested 16 PETA-organized demonstrators who allegedly tried to block the path of SeaWorld's float. The protesters sought to bring attention to the conditions experienced by SeaWorld's captive show whales.
Maybe SeaWorld and parade organizers were trying to avoid such drama at the next such event, which last January drew nearly 55 million television viewers.
*We reached out to press representatives from both organizations but had yet to hear back.
PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange, who lives in Pasadena, said the animal rights group suggested to parade organizers that they allow a float critical of SeaWorld:
With SeaWorld's stock at an all-time low and so many people speaking out against the display of orcas in tiny concrete tanks, SeaWorld may have finally realized that a pretty parade float cannot rescue its reputation. The Rose Parade is no place for a company that abuses marine life—unless the Tournament of Roses follows PETA's suggestion of displaying a 'SeaWorld of Hurt' float that shows an orca in a fishbowl surrounded by chains.
*[Added at 4:12 p.m.]: A SeaWorld spokesman got back to us. He likened last January's appearance in the parade to a one-off event. The park was celebrating a 50-year anniversary. Here's most of what he said:
SeaWorld’s plans were to only participate in the 2014 Rose Parade as the kickoff to our 50th Celebration. SeaWorld turned 50 years old this year. We never had plans to have a float entry in the 2015 Rose Parade.