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SeaWorld Is Laying Off Hundreds of Employees

The job cuts are aimed to save the company a bit of cash and help improve conditions for the animals and their handlers, apparently.

by Lauren Messman
Dec 6 2016, 8:40pm

Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete

On Tuesday, SeaWorld announced that it would be cutting 320 jobs across its 12 parks in an effort to restructure and revamp its image following a continued drop in attendance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The company—once home to the famous Shamu killer whale shows—has been the target of extensive criticism from animal-rights activists about its treatment of animals and the safety of trainers. After the particularly damaging documentary Blackfish shed light on the issue in 2013 (not to mention an ill-fated stunt by Steve-O), attendance to the park plummeted, falling from 4.44 million in 2012 to 3.53 million in 2015, Quartz reports.

In November 2015, the company said it would phase out its killer whale theatrical shows and replace them with a more natural "orca experience." Then, in March, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby announced the company would end its orca-breeding program entirely and the current generation of whales would be the last in SeaWorld's care.

According to a new statement from SeaWorld, this winter's job cuts are aimed to save the company a bit of money and help improve conditions for the animals and their handlers.

"We remain committed to a continued focus on the guest experience, the health and welfare of our animals, and the safety of our guests and team members," the company said. "It is an unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of the restructuring that some positions will be lost."

Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete via