CEO Of SeaWorld Steps Down As Attendance Continues To Drop After ‘Blackfish’ – Investigation Underway

The controversy continues at SeaWorld as one of the very top executives has stepped down.

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The documentary Blackfish came out in 2013 and five years later, it is still causing a lot of havoc for the SeaWorld theme parks. With attendance continuing to decline and numerous other problems piling up, SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby suddenly stepped down from his position on Tuesday. After coming into the company as an outside in 2015, things have not been easy for him and this puts an end to a very rocky relationship.

The biggest problem is that Manby was brought into the company to help get attendance back up after Blackfish stopped a lot of people from going to the SeaWorld parks. Revenue was down and it was thought that he would be able to come up with a plan that could get things back on track and help out the floundering company.

According to the Los Angeles Times, SeaWorld Entertainment released their fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday as well. On the same day that Manby stepped down as CEO, SeaWorld revealed that revenues are still down and there was a close to 3 percent attendance drop.

Manby’s position will be taken over in the interim by 49-year-old John T. Reilly who is the company’s COO and former president of SeaWorld San Diego. His new position comes with a $30,000 increase in annual pay.

Yoshikazu Maruyama is the chairman of SeaWorld Entertainment and he will share the overall leadership duties with Reilly by becoming the executive chairman on a temporary basis.

The overall drop of SeaWorld theme parks’ attendance in 2017 fell 5.5 percent to 20.8 million. This is the lowest point that attendance has been since 2010 and the nearly three percent decline in the fourth quarter was actually a slowdown from drops in previous quarters.

As of now, SeaWorld was happy to announce that attendance for the 2018 fiscal year has been on the upswing. The company is hoping that they will be able to continue a good trend even with the departure of Manby on Tuesday.

It appears as if more locals are visiting the SeaWorld parks while fewer tourists are attending.

Despite some changes coming to the parks regarding certain animals, there are still some investigations being done into the SeaWorld parks. Blackfish has caused many to look more into the actions of trainers, handlers, and overall care of animals in the theme parks. It was revealed back in August of last year by Biz Journals that a criminal investigation would take place at SeaWorld.

Ever since the release of Blackfish back in 2013, many have spoken out against SeaWorld due to things that were revealed in the documentary. PETA has upped its stance against the company’s actions and was a big part of the reason that SeaWorld has agreed to no longer hold killer whales in captivity. The departure of CEO Joel Manby is something that SeaWorld will have to overcome, but it’s not out of the question for the company to make a comeback.