Trace Adkins Cancels Sea World Show Amid 'Blackfish' Debate

Image: Trace Adkins Cancels Sea World Show Amid 'Blackfish' Debate

Friday, 10 Jan 2014 10:14 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Trace Adkins has canceled his upcoming appearance at Florida's SeaWorld Orlando due to the controversy surrounding the way orcas are treated by staff at the marine park as depicted in CNN's "Blackfish" documentary.

"Trace prefers that the focus of his performances be on music, not on controversy," Adkins' representative said in a statement e-mailed to CNN on Thursday. "Therefore, he has decided not to proceed with this show in the midst of this debate."

Aside from his music career, the Louisiana-born Adkins is known for his Wounded Warrior commercials and winning the seventh season of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.

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The 6'6," 51-year-old Adkins joins a growing list of musicians who have opted out of performing at the marine park after the airing of the "Blackfish" documentary in October that casts a dark shadow on SeaWorld, alleging animal abuse and neglect that resulted in the deaths of several trainers.

Other singers and bands who have decided to back-out of SeaWorld's upcoming "Bands, Blues & BBQ" in February and March include: Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Heart, Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride and 38 Special.

The Bare Naked Ladies was reportedly the first band to back out of the engagement, having written on their Facebook page: "This is a complicated issue, and we don't claim to understand all of it, but we don't feel comfortable proceeding with the gig at this time."

On Dec. 6, Willie Nelson was more blunt with his reasoning for turning his back on the event, telling CNN, "I don't agree with the way they treat their animals. It wasn't that hard a deal for me."

Only Justin Moore and Scotty McCreery are still scheduled to perform from the original list of artists, CNN noted.

As a result of the cancellations, the SeaWorld's website has reportedly been revised, replacing the list of scheduled acts with the message: "incredible concerts with top artists in classic rock and country music."

SeaWorld is said to be currently searching for replacement artists to replace the A-List musicians that have backed away from the event.

"While we're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld, we respect the artists' decisions," SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck told CNN. "We expect that other artists will be targeted in this campaign."

The 2013 documentary "Blackfish" focuses on the killer whale Tilikum, a bull orca captured off Ice Land's coast in the early 1980s.

Between 1991 and 1999, Tilikum was involved in the deaths of three individuals, two of whom were trainers. Despite this, Tilikum remains an attraction at SeaWorld Orlando.

Through interviews with several former trainers and other who previously worked at SeaWorld Orlando with Tilikum and other orcas, "Blackfish" reveals a disturbing view of the marine park, which leads to a "a damning indictment of the SeaWorld theme park franchise," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

SeaWorld's vice president of communications, Fred Jacobs, called the 'Blackfish' documentary "shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate."

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