SeaWorld is feeling the sting from recent inquiries into its treatment of killer whales – as Congress, animal activists groups and the media are questioning whether the park’s actions are unethical.
There are currently two United States Representatives from California proposing a government-backed study on the captivity of large marine animals and what, if any, the negative effects of said captivity are.
PETA is also keeping its eyes glued to SeaWorld, posting negative advertisements against the park at the San Diego airport (home to SeaWorld’s main location), warning people of the “unfair” conditions in which the park’s 29 killer whales live.
When it comes to overall attendance, SeaWorld seems to have come out unscathed thus far; in fact, it claims that attendance has actually gone up. However, the negative attention is affecting something worse that ticket sales – the bottom line.
Forbes reports that revenue will go down for SeaWorld by 6-7% by the end of the year, and the stock’s market value has taken a much bigger hit. As of last week, SeaWorld shares are valued at just under $20. When the company went public in April 2013, its IPO was $27 a share with a peak at $33. For SeaWorld, some news really is bad news.
Timing has also not been on SeaWorld’s side. Its IPO was around the same time the documentary “Blackfish” was released, which is a story about the captivity of an orca that killed three people and how his captivity led to the dire situation. Since the film’s release, many have worried that large marine animals are suffering from being held in small quarters, and now the growing public outcry has hurt the largest purveyor of marine entertainment. As of today, it is hard to tell just how much worse this will get for SeaWorld before it can get better.