SeaWorld bottom line hit hard by orca controversy

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During a night performance at Shamu Stadium, trainers direct orcas. Critics are demanding an end to keeping the animals captive for entertainment. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

SAN DIEGO — One day after announcing lower-than-expected earnings, SeaWorld had its credit rating lowered to the level of junk bonds on Thursday.

seaworldWhales

During a night performance at Shamu Stadium, trainers direct orcas. Critics are demanding an end to keeping the animals captive for entertainment. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Standard & Poor’s announced that it had lowered SeaWorld Entertainment’s credit rating amid negative publicity over its treatment of killer whales, the Los Angeles Times reported.

On Wednesday, SeaWorld experienced a record drop in its stock price after reporting lower-than-expected earnings for the second quarter.

In response, Standard & Poor’s dropped SeaWorld’s corporate credit rating to BB- from BB, pushing the rating further below investment grade, also known as junk status.

“The negative outlook reflects our belief that the company faces significant challenges regarding reputational risk and potential improvements in operating performance beyond 2014,” Standard & Poor’s said in a statement.

SeaWorld officials had previously attributed lower attendance numbers to bad weather, higher ticket prices and a shift in the timing of Easter this year. But SeaWorld conceded in its earnings report Wednesday that negative publicity over charges that it mistreats its killer whales has hurt attendance.

The criticism of SeaWorld gained momentum last year with the release of a documentary, “Blackfish,” that accused the theme park company of mistreating the orcas featured in its shows.

6 comments

  • Ekips

    I hope Sea world doesn't close, San Diego already has a low amount of jobs available. Sea world supplies a large amount of jobs and that loss would be something San Diego can not handle right now.

    • Anne

      I don't care if Sea World closes or not. I just want them to change their ideas about keeping huge huge mammals in swimming pool sized enclosures. i don't care if they are making the pools a little bigger, these animals don't belong in captivity.
      They have enough shows and other things to look at without continuing this cruelty.

  • Cassie

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead

    SeaWorld might stand a chance to stay in business if it changes its business model, stops warehousing marine mammals in bathtubs, and sticks to entertainment that doesn't exploit intelligent and endangered animals. Short of that, its days are numbered. Let's hope for the same outcome for Ringling Bros. Multi-billion dollar entertainment companies like SW and Feld Entm't can still entertain the public, provide jobs (although SW doesn't provide *that* many jobs to San Diego anyway), and stay in business without abusing and exploiting animals under the ruse of "family entertainment."

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