SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said Tuesday it’s planning to change its name to United Parks & Resorts Inc. effective Feb. 12, and will change its stock ticker to ‘PRKS’ from ‘SEAS’ starting Feb. 13.
The theme park operator
has been mired in controversy in recent years over its treatment of killer whales and other marine mammals as highlighted by a critical documentary called “Blackfish” that was released in 2013.
The company opened a new aquatic life park in the United Arab Emirates last year, its first outside the United States. That park has no orcas, but it houses animals like dolphins and seals, whose captivity and training for profit and entertainment purposes are also often criticized as unethical by animal rights advocacy groups, as the Associated Press reported.
The company said its park brands will retain their names, which include SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, Sesame Place, Water Country USA, Adventure Island, and Aquatica. The company has 12 parks in the U.S.
“Our new company name, United Parks & Resorts Inc., better reflects that we have been, and will continue to be, a diverse collection of park brands and experiences,” Chief Executive Marc Swanson said in a statement.
SeaWorld’s park visitor numbers took a big hit from the “Blackfish” documentary, which highlighted the life of Tilikum, a 12,000-pound orca that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau when he dragged her into a pool at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010.
SeaWorld later agreed to pay $65 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of misleading investors over the impact the documentary was having on its bottom line.
See also: SeaWorld’s earnings top estimates despite some bad weather during its peak season
The stock was not yet active premarket but has fallen 18% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500
has gained 22.5%.
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