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Southwest Airlines Won't End Its SeaWorld Partnership

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SeaWorld has taken a bit of a beating recently as the backlash from CNN's Blackfish documentary, which lays bare the cruel folly of keeping killer whales in captivity and forcing them to entertain the masses. To a lesser extent, so has Southwest Airlines, which has a longstanding partnership with the aquatic amusement park, going so far as to paint certain aircraft like Shamu.

The push-back against Southwest came to a head today when protestors arrived at its Dallas headquarters today to deliver a Change.org petition demanding that the airline cut ties with SeaWorld. To wit:

If you've seen the film Blackfish, you already know that SeaWorld has a long history of abusing animals and covering up injuries sustained by trainers. Southwest Airlines has been a cheerleader for this cruelty by partnering with SeaWorld for 25 years -- offering deals on flights and promotions to customers who attend SeaWorld. Now that SeaWorld's inhumane practices are in the spotlight, I'm asking the airline to stop partnering with SeaWorld immediately.

Alas, Southwest isn't unmoved by the 27,000 animal rights activists who signed the online petition. It has "heard your concerns and we do not take them lightly," the company wrote today on its blog, but it will not budge.

"We have a longstanding relationship with SeaWorld that is based on travel and bringing families together," the blog post continues. "We are engaged with SeaWorld related to the recent concerns being raised. We are in a listening and education mode with the goal of upholding our commitments as a good corporate citizen."

The answer left petition-starter Robin Merritt deeply unsatisfied. She called the response "disheartening," then lays down the gauntlet.

"I hope Southwest will stop cheer-leading SeaWorld's cruelty just like many artists including Willie Nelson, Martina McBride and Heart have already done."

That's right, Southwest. Even Heart has more moral courage than you. Time to take a good look in the mirror.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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