When SeaWorld’s stock took a dive earlier this year, the company claimed that the weather and the timing of Easter were to blame for the drop in attendance.
But their stock is continuing to fall, and the business world is now saying there’s no doubt what the problem is: People understand that marine circus shows involve a lot of animal abuse.
After the company’s shares fell 30 percent on Wednesday, SeaWorld admitted to the Wall Street Journal that “attendance in the quarter was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California.”
While animal protection groups have long been concerned about SeaWorld’s treatment of animals, the movie Blackfish has captured public attention like nothing before.
- Many celebrities, including musicians Willie Nelson and Heart, promptly canceled performances at SeaWorld facilities.
- One financial news outlet labeled SeaWorld as one of “the four companies you hate the most.”
- California Assemblyman Richard Bloom presented a bill, AB 2140, that would protect the welfare of captive orcas. The bill has been referred for interim study and will be back before the Assembly next year.
- A U.S. appeals court upheld a federal occupational safety agency’s finding against SeaWorld following the workplace death of one of its killer whale trainers.
- Southwest Airlines ended its partnership with SeaWorld.
- And numerous protests and advertising campaigns helped people understand that there’s nothing benign about how marine mammals are made to perform at marine circuses.
- Update Friday a.m. Standard & Poor’s has lowered SeaWorld Entertainment’s credit rating Thursday, pushing the rating further below investment grade, also known as junk status.
The writing is now on the wall for SeaWorld and other marine circuses in the United States. But there may be unexpected consequences. Just as, when the tobacco industry found itself in trouble in the United States, it began opening up new markets in other, more vulnerable, parts of the world, SeaWorld is now looking to capture easier profits by opening new circuses in Malaysia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where there are wealthy tourists and few regulations.
The animal protection groups have certainly won a battle. But the war is far from over.