SeaWorld to Open First Park Sans Orcas in Abu Dhabi

The troubled aquatic park looks to expand into the Middle East with a new licensing agreement.

SeaWorld announced yesterday that it reached a development deal with entertainment company Miral for the launch of SeaWorld Abu Dhabi on Yas Island in 2022. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby packaged this partnership as an effort to expand the aquatic park’s conservation efforts internationally. “This project presents an opportunity for collaboration and greater understanding of how species have adapted to the region's unique marine environment,” Manby says, “and to inspire the next generation of visitors, conservationists, and animal care experts.” SeaWorld also announced that it will not be putting any capital into the new park, and that the partnership will solely be a licensing agreement. The troubled water park has faltered in the United States—with attendance, stocks, and profits all hitting rock bottom—in the years following the release of documentary Blackfish which brought to light that SeaWorld is a company that primarily profits from the exploitation of marine life for entertainment, despite its efforts to bill itself as a conversation facility.

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