Animal activists are planning to line the parade route at next week's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Activists are protesting the inclusion of a float from SeaWorld showcasing their popular marine mammal shows featuring sea lions, dolphins and killer whales, also known as orcas. When it was announced that SeaWorld would be featuring a float in the parade animal activists immediately took to social media and began a petition demanding Macy's remove the float. SeaWorld has been taking a few hits lately about the treatment of the animals in their aquarium.

A lot of SeaWorld's negative press is coming from those who have viewed the controversial documentary "Blackfish." The film directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite focuses on the life of Tilikum, a 12,000 pound bull orca currently performing at SeaWorld of Orlando. The film follows Tilikum from his capture as a two-year-old off the coast of Iceland to his involvement in the death of senior SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. "Blackfish" has caused worldwide outrage over killer whales in captivity. For many years animal rights groups have protested SeaWorld over their captive orcas.

It was not until the release of "Blackfish" that a large number of people began to listen to these groups. "Blackfish" asks the question: Is it ethical to keep animals as intelligent and large as orcas in small captive enclosures? While Twitter and other social media platforms are arguing these questions the SeaWorld float and those opposing it are threatening to disrupt what is traditionally a wholesome and fun filled New York City event. When it comes to the parade Macy's has usually stayed out of politics and the company maintains that is still their position.

Macy's inc. issued a statement to the Associated Press saying, "The parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate or other forms of advocacy." In October a spokesperson for the Macy's Parade issued a statement to Latin Times saying, "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is intended to entertain the public. Our newest float with SeaWorld is being included in the 2013 Parade line-up, to illustrate the wonder of marine life in a manner that inspires millions to learn more about our oceans. While we understand that there may be differing views about this float, no other message or endorsement is intended."

Protesters are planning to attend the annual parade in New York City and express their anger at Macy's for allowing the float to go down the parade route. The activists are accusing SeaWorld of keeping their animals in subpar living conditions where they are said to be prone to depression, fighting amongst themselves and even aggression towards the humans that love and care for them. Members of the animal rights group PETA also spoke with the AP saying they and other animal lovers sent over 80,000 emails to Macy's asking them to remove the float.

When "Blackfish" was released SeaWorld issued a statement firing back at the accusations made in the film. "Shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2010, a SeaWorld Orlando trainer lost her life in a tragic accident involving one of the park's killer whales. The death of Dawn Brancheau was an occasion of almost unbearable sadness for those closest to Dawn... Dawn's death has been the subject of thousands of articles, broadcast news stories, blogs, books, and now a feature film called Blackfish. Many of these accounts trade in the details of Dawn's death in graphic detail."

"They do so not to inform but, rather, regrettably, because of the desire to sensationalize," the statement continued. "Our staff has interacted with killer whales - for veterinary care, training, shows, educational presentations, husbandry, exercise, play and enrichment - hundreds of times a day for nearly 50 years. The tragedy of Dawn's death cannot and has not been ignored, but neither should the literally millions of safe interactions we have had with killer whales over that span of time." The statement goes on to call the accusations made in "Blackfish" false and argues that trainers interacting in the water with the animals is for their betterment.

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