Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SeaWorld Continues to Tank

SeaWorld profits have tanked since the film Blackfish exposed how wild Orcas are killed, captured, forced into small enclosed pools, deprived of natural feeding and social behaviors, and how they then sometimes live up to their "Killer Whale" moniker  when they "turn" on their human trainers.

Now SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison has been pushed down the food chain to Vice President, even as 300 workers have been laid off.

SeaWorld is not admitting their financial difficulties are due to the black eye they have received from Blackfish, but everyone else seems able to connect the dots.

SeaWorld's biggest problem right now is that it does not seem to have a sound business model without Orcas and other ocean mammal acts (beluga whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, seals).

When McDonald's faced blow back from the movie "Super Size Me" and its exposé of the negative health consequences of eating an all-jumbo McDonald's diet all the time, that company had already launched an “Eat Smart, Be Active” salads, fruits, and yogurt option, and it quickly did more to publicize that, while moving to phase out all "super sized" fries, drinks and meals.

SeaWorld does not seem to have a similar option.

A bigger tank for the Orcas is not going to cut the mustard, and everyone knows it. Orcas are used to swimming in pods of 5 to 50 animals over vast sections of ocean. No tank in the world can provide that.

If Seaworld ditches the Orcas, will small white beluga whales and dolphin and sea lion acts be enough for people to drive long distances in order to plunk down jaw-dropping admissions fees?

Probably not.

A "Killer Whale" Act could compete (just barely) in the era of iPhones, NetFlix and 24-hour a day nature videos and news, but dolphins leaping through hoola hoops and seals that will clap and wave for a herring? Probably not.

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