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SeaWorld Accused of Rigging Online Poll Against Documentary 'Blackfish'

A 2013 documentary about SeaWorld, "Blackfish," is a serious contender for an Academy Award nomination this year.

The film includes interviews with numerous former SeaWorld trainers who described the small holding pools for killer whales, the early separation of killer whale babies from their mothers, misinformation read to the public by Sea World employees and the numerous attacks on  trainers by killer whales that are not made public by SeaWorld.

The focus of the film was on the killer whale "Tilikum," who killed senior SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and another trainer in Canada years earlier.

Before "Blackfish" even debuted, there was a massive PR campaign by SeaWorld to discredit the film, which SeaWorld officials refused to appear in.

SeaWorld claimed that the film "exploited" the death of Brancheau, but couldn't explain why Brancheau's sister appears in the film.

In response to the film, numerous musical acts have canceled their concerts at SeaWorld, including Willie Nelson, Heart and Barenaked Ladies, reports The Guardian.

SeaWorld responded to the film by citing its contributions to "education and science," as well as its own research papers in an email interview with CNN.

Now, SeaWorld is being accused of rigging an online poll to show fake support for the company over the film, notes the Orlando Business Journal.

The poll, created by the Orlando Business Journal, asked "Has CNN's 'Blackfish' documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?"

On Jan. 2, about 99 percent of those responding to the poll claimed that the film had not changed their view of SeaWorld.

But more than 54 percent of all the votes came from one Internet Protocol Address that is owned by SeaWorld.com and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

“Our team members have strong feelings about their park and company, and we encourage them to make their opinions known,” said SeaWorld Spokesman Nick Gollattscheck.

However, after this story about the possibly poll-fixing got out, the numbers drastically changed with 79 percent saying the film has changed their perception of SeaWorld.

Sources: CNN, The Guardian, Orlando Business Journal, MagPictures.com, Theorcaproject.wordpress.com

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