Attendees at a San Diego City Council meeting Tuesday were all smiles as Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued a proclamation declaring March to be "SeaWorld San Diego Month" in celebration of the theme park's 50th anniversary.
While supporters inside City Hall applauded SeaWorld, a few animal rights activists camped outside urging the company to end what they say is decades of animal abuse.
SeaWorld has faced months of controversy following the release of "Blackfish," a documentary that details the conditions of orcas, more commonly known as 'killer whales,' in captivity.
The film describes how orcas are captured from their natural habitat and forced to perform under harsh conditions for shows at SeaWorld's theme parks.
Blackfish sparked widespread criticism, including an online petition demanding SeaWorld end its captive breeding program. Public outcry also prompted many entertainers to cancel scheduled appearances at the aquatic park.
SeaWorld published a letter to refute the documentary's assertions shortly after.