Blackfish Continues to Hit SeaWorld Where It Hurts

Q2 profits plunged 84%
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2015 12:36 PM CDT
Blackfish Continues to Hit SeaWorld Where It Hurts
A young girl watches through the glass as an orca whale passes by while swimming in a display tank at SeaWorld in San Diego in 2006.   (AP Photo/Chris Park, File)

Animal-rights activists celebrated a victory yesterday after SeaWorld announced an 84% drop in profits in the wake of continued controversy over its treatment of captive orcas. The Guardian reports SeaWorld's second-quarter income plummeted from $37.4 million to $5.8 million year-over-year. The company, which operates 11 theme and water parks, cites bad weather in Texas, the poor timing of Easter, and "continued brand challenges" for its poor performance, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That last item refers to the public response to the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which put a spotlight on SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales and resulted in a drop in attendance and torpedoed the company's CEO.

Despite declining profits at SeaWorld, which one PETA director calls an "orca prison" and "abusement park," the company's recently installed CEO said he believes it's on the right track, the Guardian reports. Though it discounted ticket prices and ran a $10 million marketing campaign to combat the influence of Blackfish, attendance dropped 1.6% in the second quarter. Still, the company expects earnings to be unchanged or even slightly up in 2015 when all is said and done. The calendar will be on its side for the rest of the year, as Labor Day comes late and Halloween is on a Saturday, notes the Sentinel. But its former glory is a ways away: Shares traded at less than $18 yesterday, down from $39 in 2013. (More SeaWorld stories.)

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