This is a first for SeaWorld: When releasing its second-quarter earnings report on Wednesday, the company acknowledged that the growing controversy surrounding its treatment of animals could actually be hurting the parks.
Monetarily speaking, SeaWorld expected second-quarter revenue to be $445.3 million but instead came out with $405.2 million—a 1 percent decrease in earnings, despite a meager increase in attendance compared to this time last year. It's not as significant a hit as last quarter, which compared to the previous year suffered an 11 percent decrease in earnings.
Still, the market took note of SeaWorld's continued money troubles; the company's stock fell almost 33 percent Wednesday afternoon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Blackstone Group LP, one of SeaWorld's biggest shareholders, suffered a particularly large money drain, losing about $187 million in value on Wednesday.
Nonmonetarily speaking, a growing number of people and organizations continue to question SeaWorld's practices. Yes, there is Blackfish and all of the fallout from the film. SeaWorld made no mention of the critical documentary in its report but did acknowledge that some negative attention related to its treatment of animals could be to blame for suffering profits. "The company believes attendance in the quarter was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California," SeaWorld said in a statement, alluding to a bill calling for the review of possible "psychological and physical harm" to orcas in captivity. If it passes, live orca performances will be banned at marine parks in California, with the ultimate goal of phasing out keeping killer whales in captivity there.