The belief that any publicity is good publicity has taken a hit with the resignation of Jim Atchison as SeaWorld CEO and the laying off of 300 workers. SeaWorld is not admitting that opposition to their treatment of orcas (Orcinus orca) is responsible, but plenty of others are willing to connect the dots, sometimes literally.
As we've reported before, SeaWorld profits are drastically down since the film Blackfish exposed the way some orcas have lived up to their popular name of killer whales by causing the deaths of their trainers.
Evidence that orcas live far longer in the wild than in captivity, reversing the pattern for many terrestrial animals, probably hasn't helped. Rather than the problem passing as the film fades from memory, attendance at SeaWorld has continued to decline.
Atchison will remain involved with SeaWorld as Vice President, and certainly isn't admitting fault, saying, “It has been an honor to lead Seaworld. I am so proud of this Company and our dedicated team members.”
A permanent CEO has yet to be chosen, and until one is, it remains to be seen whether SeaWorld will simply try to ride out the bad publicity, or address the problem by eliminating orcas from their line-up. An expressed intention to double the size of their orca tanks certainly has not achieved the response SeaWord hoped.