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Friday, October 24, 2014

The Jim Henson Company Pressured To Cut Ties With SeaWorld

by Melissa Cronin

While big companies like Virgin America and Taco Bell are cutting ties with SeaWorld because of backlash from animal advocates, an educational performance at the company’s Orlando park this weekend is being targeted for cancellation as well. 

The one-day engagement, titled "Jim Henson's Sid the Science Kid Live: Let's Play!" will feature a costumed character teaching science to kids on Sunday. The character is the star of a PBS Kids show produced by the Jim Henson Company (named for the late creator of “The Muppets”). 

In the wake of allegations of orca whale abuse at the parks revealed in the documentary “Blackfish,” activists have been calling on the appearance to be cancelled or moved to a different venue. One parent even created a petition on that’s gained over 3,000 signatures. Its creator, Jessica Kociara, a mother of two living in Tampa, Florida, wrote: 

I just heard that Sid the Science Kid is scheduled to appear at SeaWorld this Sunday (October 26), and I'm shocked. As a parent to two young kids who love watching Sid the Science Kid DVDs we get at the local library, I can't understand why he would want to be connected with a company known to be cruel to wild animals.

Kociara created the petition after she heard that the event was to be held at SeaWorld. Kociara told The Dodo that her kids, ages four and five, love “Sid the Science Kid.” 

“When we found out that he was going to be at SeaWorld, my kids were the ones who wanted to protest it,” she said, adding that her kids think that whales and dolphins “should live in the wild, not in a tank.” 

Interestingly, PBS has dealt with the issue of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in captivity before. In 1997, its television series Frontline published a breakthrough investigation into the industry of marine parks like SeaWorld. The report was one of the first major news stories to cover the story, and sparked a movement that has led to the surge of backlash against cetacean captivity that’s exploding today.

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