SeaWorld has made efforts to pacify Shamu-lovers, but the effects of Blackfish are still roiling in its wake.
SeaWorld’s stock has climbed approximately 25 percent since the company ended its orca breeding program. But there are other problems facing the marine park.
He has fathered 21 calves.
As of last year, only 10 were still alive. pic.twitter.com/ZA5OvJgIgR
— peta2 (@peta2) April 10, 2016
For one, the outcry about those whales just never seems to end.
The whales, the whales. The public just never seems to let go of the thought of those killer whales, swimming endlessly in their cement pond, day after day, year after year.
On Thursday, in a PETA-sponsored video, comedian Lily Tomlin released a biting satire with a message about orcas and a sting like a jellyfish.
Tomlin’s beloved character “Ernestine” is portrayed as an office administrator fielding a complaint call about SeaWorld.
“…SeaWorld, where everyone has a whale of a time, except for the whales. (Chuckle, snort.)
“Yes, the whales do lose teeth gnawing on the concrete walls, but if you were a trainer, wouldn’t you prefer to swim with a toothless killer whale?”
The orca trick performances have ended, as has the orca breeding program.
Legislation is taking hold on the captive whale breeding. In an unprecedented move on Tuesday, the California Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife committee voted twelve to one in support of permanently banning the breeding of captive orcas in California.
The bill was addressed in SeattlePI blog,
“AB 2305 will not only prohibit the breeding of captive orcas, it will allow only educational displays of the existing animals. Dr. Naomi Rose from the Animal Welfare Institute, former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove (featured in Blackfish) and Kim Ventre from Voice of the Orcas as well as many others spoke in support. The bill was presented by Assemblyman Richard Bloom.”
SeaWorld did not argue the decision. The park was represented by Pete Montgomery, once described as a “big-time lobbyist” expected to defeat a bill to ban orca shows.
SeaWorld has hired a big-time lobbyist, Pete Montgomery, to defeat a bill in Sacramento that would ban orca shows. pic.twitter.com/pg2eANo1VQ
— Tony Perry (@tonyperrysd) March 14, 2014
But Montgomery testified that SeaWorld intended to make good on its promise to end orca breeding.
This move, along with SeaWorld’s new alliance with the Humane Society of the United States, has led to stocks rising for the company. But according to an article in Business Insider, Jason Bazinet at Citi asserts that SeaWorld is not out of the woods yet. Investors, he said, are shying away from the stock.
“In effect, adverse Orlando trends could offset the benefits of the firm’s strategic pivot. And, in parallel, the Street has already rewarded SeaWorld’s equity. Recall, since the orca announcement, SeaWorld’s equity is up ~25%. As such, we no longer like the risk-reward and are moving to the sidelines.”
— ThrillGeek (@thrillgeek) April 15, 2016
With the absence of orca shows, SeaWorld is morphing into a regional park instead of a destination, Bazinet said.
“But, we want to assess this: If management pivots from an orca centric tourist park to a regional park, then the number of resident visitors should rise. But, the number of international and out-of-state visitors should fall. The key is to understand the trade-off.”
Beyond this, there is the theory that Universal Studios is stealing the non-Disney crowd away from SeaWorld, simply by ramping up their attractions.
“We believe this suggests that guests are electing to spend part of their Disney vacation at Universal rather than SeaWorld. This is likely driven by higher capital investments at Universal.”
Beyond losing its whale shows, it looks like SeaWorld has to come up with some ways to compete with Harry Potter. Since the company has been attempting to climb out of hot water in the public eye, perhaps it will be open to suggestions.
[Photo of Lily Tomlin by Associated Press]