SeaWorld Entertainment is pointing the finger at a documentary released last year called “Blackfish” for lower attendance and profit for the second quarter of the fiscal year. The documentary focused on the theme park operator’s treatment of killer whales and how the whales were trained to perform tricks. The film appeared to suggest that the way the whales were treated resulted in violent behavior that resulted in the killing of their trainers.
The negative publicity surrounding the theme park after the release of the documentary is believed to be responsible for the drop in attendance that occurred in the following months. The company offered promotions and discounts during the quarter in an attempt to boost attendance, but the efforts did not result in profit growth. The reported second-quarter profit and sales for the Orlando, Florida-based company were lower than analysts had expected. The company now expects revenue to decrease by 6 to 7 percent for the year.
For the quarter that ended on June 30, SeaWorld reported net income of $37.3 million, or 43 cents per share. Wall Street expected net income of 60 cents per share. In the same quarter last year, the company reported a loss of $15.9 million, or 18 cents per share. Revenue of $405.2 million was reported, a 1.5 percent decline from the same period in the previous year. Analysts expected revenue of $447.7 million.
SeaWorld recently announced that it would be making changes to the way that the killer whales are housed, trained, and treated. The company will be expanding the whales’ habitat into new, larger environments at its theme parks. The company will also increase its funding for researching the killer whales and what they need to thrive.
The company also announced that it would be funding several programs to protect whales in the wild and the health of the ocean. Representatives of the theme park were quick to point out that these changes have been planned for a while and are not coming as a response to the negative criticism leveled at the company after the release of the “Blackfish” documentary.