New figures have revealed the number of visitors to SeaWorld San Diego plunged 14 percent in 2017, as more than a half million fewer people visited the marine park.
The rate of decline is considerably steeper than the overall 5.5 percent attendance decrease in 2017 for all 12 parks operated by parent company SeaWorld Entertainment.
Financial uncertainty and public outcry against the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity have plagued SeaWorld in recent years and the company announced last year that it would end the breeding of orcas in captivity.
SeaWorld cites the re-emergence of negative feeling towards the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity as playing a part in recent falling attendances at its San Diego park, and that a ‘reduced marketing spend’ on its campaign to boost it’s reputation had been a factor.
Former SeaWorld CEO, Joel Manby recently stepped down after failing to reversed the company’s fortunes during his three years in post. Just days after Manby’s departure, it was announced that SeaWorld’s chief creative officer, Anthony Esparza, was leaving too, and only one week ago, the company announced chief marketing officer, Denise Godreau, was also departing despite being hired little more than a year ago.
Sea World attendances and profits have been falling since the release of Blackfish, the award-winning film focusing on the life of Tilikum, an orca from Iceland who was held in captivity by SeaWorld and who died last year.