Since the 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish’ was released, there has been a significant drop in attendance numbers at SeaWorld andthe company shares have dropped 62% in the past three years.
The next blow to the park comes from Governor Jerry Brown, who signed a bill on Tuesday that officiallyends SeaWorlds orca breeding and performances in California.
The bill, SB839, was authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom and outlaws corporations and individuals frombreeding orcas in captivity, and those who break the law face a fine of up to $100,000.
There’s a catch, however, as the bill makes exceptions for educational institutions who intend to research the creatures.
Earlier this year, in March, before the bill was passed – SeaWorld had already pledged to abandon it’s breeding programs and performances for entertainment to focus on ‘educational endeavors’. The park’s San Diego branch is set to unveil their new educational display by 2019.
The current generation of orcas will be the last in SeaWorlds care, the company said in a statement. Park visitors will be able to see the animals in natural orca encounters rather than watching them perform, SeaWorld said.
The decision to phase out what used to be a main selling point forSeaWorlds parks, might actually work in their favour and couldactually increase attendance and sales. Bob Boyd, a leisure credit analyst at Pacific Asset Management, suggests that their future Marketing campaigns may seek to capitalize on the last generation of orcas in captivity, urging consumers to come see the creatures while they still can.
Such campaigns could last 20 years, This path is actually smarter, he suggests.
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Lead image: Getty