Aside from the swarms of parents who love to take their children to watch Orcas being asked to do pirouettes for food, not a lot of people like SeaWorld. It’s been branded cruel and unethical, with the documentary Blackfish highlighting astonishing flaws with the company and the treatment of its “attractions.” So now Tom Daley has gone and had himself painted up like a shark in collaboration with the company, and people are pissed off.
The Olympic diver was painted up like a Great White (at least I think that’s what it is, it’s difficult to tell when it’s been drawn on the side of a half-naked human body) ahead of Shark Week, in order to “raise awareness” of the need for conservation of the fish. “I’ve always been really fascinated by sharks,” Tom said when asked to expand upon his reasons behind joining the campaign. We all are, Tom. We all are.
But the campaign hasn’t been warmly received by detractors of SeaWorld, most notably the animal rights organisation PETA who, when they’re not killing 81% of the animals they shelter or trying to get women naked, actually sometimes give a shit about animals. Or, in this case, fish.
A statement released by the organisation reads:
SeaWorld confines social and self-aware animals to tiny pools with chemically treated water where they are forced to perform silly tricks.
If the company were a true conservation organisation, it would have already released these animals to appropriate sanctuaries. We commend Tom’s desire to save sharks and will be in touch with him to urge him to support conservation efforts that actually help protect fish instead of corporations that exploit animals for profit.
SeaWorld is currently embroiled in “Seagate” after its corporate espionage campaign – with agents sent to spy on animal-protection advocates and egg them on to commit violent, illegal acts – was exposed.
Aside from PETA, Tom’s participation in the campaign hasn’t been warmly received by the Internet either, with some of his followers on Twitter claiming that they will “never support him again,” making Tom Daley the first celebrity in history to alienate his fans by pretending to be a fish.
Of course, the sequence of events that will follow are largely predictable: Daley will inevitably apologise, likely withdraw his support of the campaign, everyone will say “well done for owning up to your mistakes, Tom,” and then we’ll all carry on with our day, allowing SeaWorld to continue to be a shitty place until we choose to make a big song and a dance about it when they get a new celebrity to support them. Such is the Internet, such is life.