SeaWorld's Cheap Trick booking dries up

Captive killer whale issue following popularity of Blackfish likely the reason

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Cheap Trick is the latest band to back out of a booking at SeaWorld Orlando over the theme park's treatment of orcas, as shown in the recent documentary Blackfish.

Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, and the rest of the gang that make up the popular classic-rock band are now the fourth set of musicians to cancel upcoming shows at the theme park. Other acts include Willie Nelson, Joan Jett, Nancy and Ann Wilson from Heart, and '90s band Barenaked Ladies.

According to a mass email from online advocacy site Change.Org, management for Cheap Trick told an Orlando radio station that the band jumped from the pool of artists set to perform at the theme park's "Bands, Brew, and BBQ" concert series that was to begin February 1 with a performance by Willie Nelson (Cheap Trick was scheduled for February 8).

Though the band's spokesperson would not confirm that the cancellation is in response to the film, the announcement comes just weeks after the documentary gained notoriety and landed on the short list for the Best Documentary award at this year's Oscars.

The decision to cancel the shows also comes as thousands of people are signing petitions on Change.Org. According to the website, more than 65,000 have signed one such petition demanding that "SeaWorld, Inc., humanely release the Orca whale known as Tilikum to a seapen for rehab."

“Extracting an animal from his natural environment, where he would normally swim vast distances, dive to extreme depths and spend his entire life with his close knit family pod is simply unethical," reads the petition.

"To use a living, breathing, self-aware and extremely intelligent sentient being as a sperm bank in a forced captive breeding program, and as a part-time splash-machine for the enjoyment of the paying public is, considered by many, simply appalling."

12/16/14 Update: Since publication of this article, .38 Special and REO Speedwagon have also canceled gigs at SeaWorld Orlando.

Management for .38 Special posted the following to the band's Facebook page:

“Due to concerns raised by the CNN documentary 'Blackfish,' 38 Special will be canceling its scheduled March 9th concert at Seaworld. We appreciate the outpouring of support and especially apologize to our Orlando fans. We will try and schedule another performance in your area in the near future. The band wishes everyone a happy holiday season and look forward to seeing you all again in 2014."

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How many dates are left in the "Bands, Brew and BBQ" series? There may be so few left as to make the whole thing look foolish. But if Sea World cancels it, what does that say about Sea World? Not anything good, I'd venture. They're in a real bind now, and if they cancel the series it will look like surrender. They need a Churchill as spokesman who will growl. "We shall nevah surrendah!"

I understand Pat Boone is coming out of retirement, and is willing to take the SeaWorld gig, as opening act for Donny and Marie!

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