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SeaWorld CEO to step down

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SAN DIEGO – Jim Atchinson is stepping down as chief executive officer of SeaWorld.

Chairman David F. D’Alessandro will be interim CEO starting January 15 until the SeaWorld Board of Directors selects a successor, according to a SeaWorld statement released Thursday.

It was unknown if Atchison’s decision was voluntary. He will become vice chairman of the board and serve as a consultant to SeaWorld with respect to international expansion projects.

SeaWorld also announced a restricting program which will result in loss of some positions in the company.  The plan is to “centralize some operations, reduce duplication of functions and increase efficiencies.”

The announcement comes amid SeaWorld’s drop in stock prices and disappointing financial earnings.

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 in August that negative publicity over charges that it mistreats its killer whales has hurt attendance.

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