The wildly popular documentary Blackfish broadcasted on a wide scale and revealed the disturbing truths behind SeaWorld and marine mammals in captivity to the world. Featuring in-depth interviews with former SeaWorld employees and undercover footage, the film exposed the extreme animal cruelty and greed of the company.
Among SeaWorld’s practices include kidnapping young calves from the wild or captivity as their distressed mothers protest with haunting cries, keeping animals in unnaturally small and inhumane enclosures, forcing animals to perform unnatural “tricks” in exchange for food, neglecting the well-being and health of animals who continually suffer from unchecked injuries and the psychological disorder zoochosis, drugging animals, and forcibly impregnating animals they view fit for “entertainment.”
The general public became absolutely outraged by what was revealed in Blackfish and SeaWorld’s ticket sales made a significant drop. However, in attempts to save whatever was left of the company’s reputation, a long line of excuses were made to explain the sudden changes in attendance, from blaming new attractions at nearby amusement parks to crediting the drop in sales to school schedules.
SeaWorld’s CEO, Jim Atchison, falsely claimed that Blackfish likely had no impact on ticket sales, despite the fact he sold over $4.5 million worth of shares of the company. SeaWorld later admitted that public disapproval was a major factor in the drop in profits, which then caused their stock value to plummet 33 percent, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars for other investors.
SeaWorld investors retaliated by suing the company for false claims that misled investors to keep stock in SeaWorld, and now the Department of Justice (DOJ) is undergoing an investigation to reveal if any financial crimes like insider trading were committed by SeaWorld. The acting chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section, Sandra Moser, confirmed that criminal investigations on SeaWorld are being conducted by her department, and she is urging a judge to delay depositions in the civil litigation until November 30th, due to worries that the civil litigation could possibly “implicate and negatively affect the ongoing criminal investigation” and the questioning of witnesses.
Although this investigation does not directly involve the issue of marine mammals in captivity, it does shed light on the notorious greed and corruption of SeaWorld and shows the company that there are legal consequences for their actions.
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