SeaWorld has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a securities fraud lawsuit, according to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 2014, a group of shareholders filed the lawsuit—which was granted class-action status earlier this year—against SeaWorld for failing to disclose the financial impact of 2013 animal-rights documentary Blackfish. “This case underscores the need for a company to provide investors with timely and accurate information that has an adverse impact on its business,” SEC Enforcement Division co-director Steven Peikin said. “SeaWorld described its reputation as one of its ‘most important assets,’ but it failed to evaluate and disclose the adverse impact Blackfish had on its business in a timely manner.” In a statement, SeaWorld explained that it neither admits nor denies allegations against it for failing to report the damages it incurred after the release of Blackfish. However, the company suffered a number of quantified losses since 2013, including plummeting profits, stock values, and 1.2 million fewers visitors in 2017 alone. While SeaWorld maintains that it is a conservation organization with high standards of animal welfare, travel companies continue to boycott the for-profit aquatic park, most recently AAA Arizona which—after pressure from animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—announced this week that it would no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld.
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