Published: Tue, June 27, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

SeaWorld under investigation after impact of 'Blackfish' documentary

SeaWorld under investigation after impact of 'Blackfish' documentary

"Blackfish" centered around Tilikum, an orca that dragged a trainer into its tank at SeaWorld Orlando and killed her; the same whale had been involved in the deaths of two other people.

The Company also has received subpoenas from the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with these matters.

In an SEC filing, the company disclosed that it received a subpoena from the Justice Department in June "concerning disclosures and public statements made by the Company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the "Blackfish" documentary, and trading in the company's securities". It details alleged mistreatment of orca whales by SeaWorld workers, and it led to massive amounts of backlash.

SeaWorld has also set-up a special committee to help it handle the investigation, the document said.

SeaWorld says it has cooperated with the two inquiries and it intends to continue cooperating with any inquiries or requests by the government.

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On Aug. 13, 2014, SeaWorld shares dropped nearly 33 percent, its largest one-day decline, according to MarketWatch. The Justice Department and SeaWorld declined to comment, and the SEC did not immediately respond to inquiries from the media.

In 2013 the documentary "Blackfish" was released by CNN.

SeaWorld has since made plans to change its practices, ending its orca-breeding programme and redesigning its shows to depict the animals in natural habitats instead of having them perform tricks. The water park operator responded to the film by calling it false, misleading and "emotionally manipulative" propaganda. PETA alleges that animals kept by SeaWorld live shorter lives while in captivity than those that live in the wild.

This year in April, SeaWorld announced the birth of a new whale, just over after they chose to stop breeding the creatures after animal rights protests and declining ticket sales.

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