Federal Probe at SeaWorld Related to Documentary “Blackfish”
SeaWorld said the probes are separate involving one with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the other with the Department of Justice.
The two investigations are probing into public statements and disclosures made by executives at the company in August of 2014 or earlier that were related to the impact of the documentary “Blackfish” and shares of SeaWorld, according to one of the company’s public filings.
The filing says that the board of directors at the company formed a new committee in early June to help the company respond to the agencies’ inquires.
SeaWorld says it has cooperated with the two inquiries and it intends to continue cooperating with any inquiries or requests by the government.
More details about the ongoing investigations have not been released. SeaWorld and the Department of Justice would not comment about the ongoing inquiry by the DOJ, while the SEC would not respond to several messages left.
In 2013 the documentary “Blackfish” was released by CNN. It details the alleged mistreatment by workers at SeaWorld of its orca whales, and led to huge backlash from different groups and organizations.
The operator of water parks that is based in Orlando, Florida responded to the documentary by saying it was misleading, false and propaganda that was emotionally manipulative.
PETA the animal rights group launched its own campaign against the water park operator. PETA alleges that animals kept by SeaWorld live shorter lives while in captivity than those that live in the wild.
In defending itself SeaWorld recently has taken several steps to give its image a boost with ads that feature employees at SeaWorld discussing the care given to the different animals at its many parks.
SeaWorld also said that its killer whales that currently were in its care are the last generation that will be kept enclosed in its water parks.
The documentary released by CNN caused the gate receipts and number of visitors to drop off across all its parks due to hurting its image with the general public.
Groups such as PETA and other animal rights organizations have become very strong and influential as they attempt to make sure animals are treated well when in captivity in water parks or zoos around the world.