Troubled aquatic park SeaWorld reported that its 2017 first quarter earnings fell by $30.4 million—a loss that is substantially larger than the $12.2 million drop initially predicted by market analysts. SeaWorld also reported a 15 percent drop in attendance during the first quarter, a trend that has only intensified since the 2013 release of documentary Blackfish. Along with rapidly decreasing profits (falling 84 percent from 2015 to 2016), the company’s stock has been plummeting for several years—hitting rock bottom last year and forcing SeaWorld to halt dividend payouts to investors and cut 320 jobs to stay afloat. “SeaWorld’s earnings are as dismal as ever, but it’s still separating animals from their lifelong companions and sentencing baby orcas to miserable lives in concrete cells,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Vice President Tracey Reiman said. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby announced last year that orcas—which the park can no longer breed in captivity—will no longer be forced to perform shows for profit. Instead, Manby said the park would focus on re-positioning itself as a conservation facility—all the while holding cetaceans in tanks smaller than guest parking lots resulting in the recent deaths of several captive whales and dolphins, including the subject of Blackfish, Tilikum. “As Ringling Bros. circus prepares to shut down this month because of its failure to evolve, SeaWorld could save itself by not fighting a losing battle against the sea [of] change of public opinion and set a plan immediately to move these long-suffering animals to seaside sanctuaries,” Reiman said. Last year, toy company Munchkin’s CEO Steven Dunn invested $1.2 million in initial funding of the Whale Sanctuary Project with the aim to construct the first whale sanctuary in North America to serve as a rehabilitation facility for animals rescued from companies such as SeaWorld.
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