SeaWorld to revamp killer whale theme parks after 'Blackfish' backlash
Documentary raised concerns about the treatment of killer whales in captivity
SeaWorld has announced plans to upgrade its theme parks after it was hit by a wave of negative publicity over its killer whale shows.
Earlier this week, the American marine theme park operator admitted animal rights protests had damaged the company's financial results following the release of the award-winning documentary "Blackfish".
On Wednesday, shares in SeaWorld plunged more than 30 per cent after the company, which operates 11 theme parks across the United States. missed analysts' estimates when it reported second quarter earnings, admitting that negative publicity is taking a toll on visitor numbers.
SeaWorld also saw its credit rating slashed to BB- by Standard & Poor's citing "significant challenges regarding reputation risk" and "negative media reports that have specifically targeted the company's use of orca whales for entertainment purposes".
The company now hopes to make amends by upgrading its whale tanks in three locations, including Sea World San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, and donating $10 million to fund research.
Jared Goodman, director of animal law at PETA Foundation, dismissed the announcement as a desperate move to win back visitors and appease investors, adding that it doesn't address the issue of captivity.
He added: "This is a desperate drop-in-the-bucket move to try to turn back the hands of time at a time when people understand the suffering of captive orcas, and it will not save the company.
"What could save it would be the recognition that it needs not to make larger tanks but to turn the orcas out in seaside sanctuaries so that they can feel and experience the ocean again, hear their families, and one day be reunited with them. A bigger prison is still a prison."
SeaWorld has been criticised by animal rights groups for exploiting killer whales as tourist attraction and the release of "Blackfirst" has given the issue widespread media attention. The theme park operator has repeatedly dismissed the documentary, which explored the death of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, as "inaccurate and misleading".
Brancheau died after a 12,000-pound orca known as Tilikum pulled her underwater while terrified spectators looked on at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida in 2010. The film raised concerns about the treatment of killer waves in captivity and argued that Tilikum's violent behaviour was the result of abuse and harassment.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...