For the past few years, SeaWorld has been under heavy scrutiny, due to criticism from animal rights activist who say that they mistreat the whales and dolphins that they have in captivity.
The theme park has been at the center of controversy since the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish”, which exposed the inhumane treatment of its animals.
The company announced this week that they have seen an 84% decrease in sales as “continued brand challenges” steer customers away from the park. Since the release of the film, it was reported that the company lost more than half of its market value, and was forced to fire many leading executives.
In figures released last Thursday, it was shown that SeaWorld’s income dropped from $37.4 million in 2014 to $5.8 million in 2015, and attendance dropped by more than 100,000 tickets.
In a statement last week, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby admitted that “We realize we have much work ahead of us to recover more of our attendance base, increase revenue and improve our performance as returning to historical performance levels will take time and investment. On the reputation side, early feedback on our campaign has been positive, however, we recognize that fully resolving our brand challenges in California will require sustained focus and commitment to correct misinformation. We will continue to fight with the facts, because the facts are on our side.”
SeaWorld contends that their parks are more like veterinary clinics than zoos, because according to the company, they nurse sick animals back to health and keep them in captivity because they would not be able to survive on their own. However, these claims are mostly rejected by animal rights activists.
Jared Goodman, director of animal law for PETA told the Guardian that “SeaWorld is in the midst of a spying scandal, animals are dying in its tanks, and tens of thousands of people have opposed its bid to build a new orca prison, so it should come as no surprise that SeaWorld’s quarterly earnings have plummeted yet again in the second quarter. Families just don’t want to buy tickets to see orcas going insane inside tiny tanks, and SeaWorld’s profits, like the orcas, won’t recover until the abusement park empties its tanks and builds coastal sanctuaries.”