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Humpback whale underwater

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Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

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Boto © Fernando Trujillo

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Tokitae in captivity

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Orcas at the seabed

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Is SeaWorld feeling the heat of Harry Potter

SeaWorld, besieged by public pressure at home and facing an increasingly difficult regulatory environment in the USA, may be looking to expand overseas to escape the restrictions it is facing as people become more concerned about its care for whales and dolphins and its own staff.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that on Wednesday SeaWorld had ‘reached a tentative deal for a theme-park resort in the Middle East, which become the Orlando-based company’s first overseas destination.’

The Sentinel went onto report that the announcement came on the same day that SeaWorld reported a disappointing financial performance in which ‘attendance and earnings slumped’. The company blamed a late Easter holiday.

SeaWorld said it lost $49.4 million during the quarter, which was 22 percent wider than the $40.4 million it lost during the first three months of 2013. SeaWorld typically operates at a loss during the first quarter, as about half of its parks close during the winter.

Total revenue tumbled 11 percent to $212.3 million, though the company said its sales-per-visitor rose 2.2 percent to $69.72, thanks to higher prices and other strategies.

Attendance fell 13 percent, from 3.5 million visitors a year ago to just over 3 million.

It’s understood that SeaWorld will react by raising ticket prices again ahead of Memorial Day as it tries to compete with the new Universal “Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley.”

Having had to abandon it long-term claim to have a right to be able to live capture whales and dolphins to stock its tanks thanks to campaigning from WDC, and with the Virgin Group holding a review of its relationship with dolphinaria thanks to WDC’s same campaign; coming on the back of the revelations from the Blackfish documentary, SeaWorld may think the British wizard is just one step too many and may well be starting to think its future lays outside of the USA?

We shall be watching carefully.

In the meatime you can help by joining our campaign to end tour operator support for whale and dolphin captvity