SeaWorld boss steps down after film hurts attendance

SeaWorld protestors Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Attendance at SeaWorld has declined in the wake of criticism of its treatment of whales

Jim Atchison, the chief executive of SeaWorld, has resigned.

The aquatic amusement park has struggled to attract visitors in the wake of a 2013 film, Blackfish, which criticised its treatment of killer whales.

SeaWorld acknowledged in August that the film had hurt revenues at its San Diego, California park.

The company's share price has fallen 44% this year, and now trades around $16 per share.

In a statement, SeaWorld said that current board chairman David F D'Alessandro would serve as interim chief executive, and that the firm would also continue with its plans to reorganise in order to save $50m by the end of 2015.

The company said that part of the restructuring would involve job cuts.

SeaWorld operates 11 theme parks globally.

In its most recent earnings report, it said attendance had dropped to 8.4 million visitors in the third-quarter of 2014 from 8.9 million in the same period a year earlier.

It attributed the decline to "a combination of factors including negative media attention in California along with a challenging competitive environment."

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