SeaWorld bows to ‘Blackfish’ pressure

by Rachel Baker on August 16, 2014

Public pressure can and does sometimes make a difference for getting a corporation to change the way they do business for the better.

SeaWorld Entertainment confirmed Friday that it will upgrade its killer whale tanks, succumbing to public pressure that has been mounting since the release of CNN’s “Blackfish” documentary last year.

Shares of the theme park operator are down 35% since the company axed its outlook and reported a decline in attendance at its flagship San Diego park on Wednesday.

SeaWorld (SEAS, +3.67%) directly attributed disappointing earnings to “adverse publicity” surrounding the treatment of its Orca whales. A documentary called “Blackfish” released last year highlighted less-than-ideal habitats for the killer whales it holds in captivity, outraging activists and triggering lawsuits seeking to ban killer whale captivity.

“Adverse publicity concerning our business generally could harm our brands, reputation and results of operations,” SeaWorld said in earlier this week.

The Orlando-based company plans to nearly double the size of the tanks that house its Orcas in San Diego to about 10 million gallons of water and a depth of 50 feet.

Animals rights group PETA, which is pushing for the complete release of the whales, was not convinced.

SeaWorld bows to ‘Blackfish’ pressure

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