SeaWorld is sinking. The marine mammal theme park has seen a drastic decrease in visitors.
"The killer whale show has long been SeaWorld's most popular attraction, but so far this year, park attendance has been decreasing, down 13 percent." (Via ABC)
The Guardian says the number of visitors from January through March at SeaWorld's 12 U.S. locations has dropped from 3.5 million in 2013 to 3.05 million this year.
And even more bad news for SeaWorld? Orca trainers have been sidelined.
"There's a new ruling by the federal appeals court upholding an earlier decision that it's too dangerous for the trainers to be in the water with the whales." (Via WWSB)
And it's hard not to tie all this extra scrutiny of SeaWorld to the popularity of the documentary "Blackfish."
More than 20 million people watched the film when it aired on CNN, which paints an ugly picture of SeaWorld's behind-the-scenes treatment of its whales and trainers. (Via Magnolia Pictures / "Blackfish")
"'I've been expecting somebody to be killed by Tilikum.' 'We weren't told much about it other than it was trainer error.' 'It didn't just happen, it's not a singular event, you have to go back to understand this.'" (Via Magnolia Pictures / "Blackfish")
Following the film, roughly 130,000 people have signed a petition asking SeaWorld to release one of its whales, Tilikum, to a seapen for rehab. (Via Change.org)
SeaWorld has launched an aggressive PR campaign to counter all the bad press, insisting the company did not try to hide certain facts surrounding a trainer's death or Tilikum's past. (Via SeaWorld)
Despite the backlash and drop in visitor numbers, The San Diego Union-Tribune says SeaWorld attributes the first quarter dip to Easter being in the second quarter this year.