We learned this morning that SeaWorld Entertainment’s CEO, Joel Manby, has stepped down in the wake of the company reporting a fourth-quarter 2017 net loss of $20.4 million.
This news – and the fact that attendance at SeaWorld’s theme parks fell a further 5.5% to 20.8 million last year – continues to confirm that the public no longer embraces the SeaWorld visitor experience and the keeping of whales and dolphins in concrete tanks.
The important issues going forward are the policy implications of SeaWorld’s financial crisis for the whales and dolphins they hold for entertainment.
The company has made some incremental changes in recent years, including a pledge to stop breeding orcas and the introduction of a less theatrical show at one of its theme parks.
However, ending the breeding still leaves 21 orcas living out their lives in concrete tanks and a continuing lack of public interest in what SeaWorld is offering. If the company is to regain public confidence and interest, it needs to bring an end altogether to keeping these highly intelligent animals in concrete tanks.
The Whale Sanctuary Project is moving forward with the creation of the first seaside sanctuary for captive orcas and belugas. We invite SeaWorld and the other marine entertainment parks and aquariums to work with us toward a new future for captive whales and dolphins.