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SeaWorld says protester's claims are without merit

More than 100 protesters are lining SeaWorld Drive Sunday encouraging people to boycott SeaWorld -- in the wake of the controversial documentary "Blackfish."

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Visitors to SeaWorld San Diego were met with a string of protesters Sunday.

Animal rights activists staged a demonstration asking people to boycott SeaWorld in response to the documentary "Blackfish."

On this busy holiday weekend -- people entering SeaWorld were greeted with flyers. signs and even chalk drawings -- asking them to boycott the park for its alleged mistreatment of animals. 

"They have no business living in a concrete tank being forced to perform stupid tricks for profit for this large organization that does not care about these animals." 

Ellen Ericksen is the activist behind Sunday's protest.

More than 100 people showed up, including Kadie Nagy, a San Diego resident who used to visit SeaWorld once a week.

That is -- until she saw movies: the Cove and Blackfish.

"We realized we want to use our voices to speak up for the animals," she said. 

Organizers say they have been protesting this issue for years, but that Blackfish has brought it front and center.

"What happened to her...really could have happened to anyone."

The documentary released in October questions SeaWorld operations, and examines the 2009 death of a SeaWorld trainer in Orlando.

Just this past Friday, park officials responded to the backlash by posting an open letter in eight newspapers across the country, including the Union Tribune.

It states among other things, SeaWorld does not capture killer whales in the wild, nor does it separate calves from its mothers.

In addition, the letter states: SeaWorld has given $70 million toward killer whale habitats.

"It seems to me their words are well-manipulated for a public that doesn't ask many questions."

While these protesters are asking questions, park officials continue to fire back.

A statement released Sunday said, in part:

"The protesters' claims and accusations are, as they always have been, without merit. There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld."

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