Shamu performs at San Diego SeaWorld in 2009.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Frat Bros Break into SeaWorld

Steal ice cream, take selfies

Lots of frat boys live by the motto "go hard or go home," but those words usually apply to binge drinking and dangerous stunts, not activities that most elementary schoolers would enjoy. At 2 a.m. Thursday, five University of Houston frat brothers allegedly broke into SeaWorld San Antonio in search of ice cream and animals to take pictures with.

Their results were decidedly mixed. According to Huffington Post and San Antonio Express-News reports, the bros climbed a tree near a perimeter fence to enter the park. Once they got in, they embarked on a quest for ice cream. Somewhat surprisingly, the guys were successful, breaking into a storage container and stealing Dippin' Dots.

That's when things went awry. As the frat bros searched for animals to pose with, police arrived—they had been called by security guards who spotted the trespassers. Three of the intruders escaped, but authorities apprehended a 23-year-old and an 18-year old, subsequently charging them with criminal trespassing and theft under $500. Police have still not confirmed whether the students obtained the pictures they so fervently sought.

In a busy week for SeaWorld news, last night's kerfuffle isn't the only recent development for the network of 11 theme parks. The Wall Street Journal reports that yesterday afternoon, the company reported that fourth-quarter losses widened in 2013 due to operating costs and a drop in admission. Even for a year with record profits, this was somewhat expected; theme park attendance spikes in warmer months, meaning that such companies usually operate at a loss during the first and fourth quarters. Still, SeaWorld lost more at the end of 2013 than the end of 2012: $13.5 million versus $8.8 million.

What else has been going on with SeaWorld? For one, they continue to litigate with the U.S. Department of Labor regarding conduct of the investigator who scrutinized the company's practices following the 2010 killing of a trainer by an orca whale at an Orlando park.

Additionally, New York Daily News reports that Steve Irwin wasn't the only member of his family in the news this week. His 15-year-old daughter, Bindi, has come under fire for accepting the title of SeaWorld's "Youth Ambassador." Animal activists and even her own grandfather condemned her association with the company, alleging it'll tarnish her late father's name.