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SeaWorld Losses Widen For The Year, CEO Manby Departs

The entrance to Sea World is seen, in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld, Jan. 31, 2017.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: The entrance to Sea World is seen, in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld, Jan. 31, 2017.

SeaWorld's CEO Joel Manby is stepping down from his post as the theme park operator. The park posted a fourth-quarter loss and continues to work on transforming its business.

The company said Tuesday that John Reilly, chief parks operations officer, will take over as interim CEO. Chairman Yoshikazu Maruyama will serve as interim executive chairman until a permanent CEO is named. At that point, he will resume his position as chairman.

After being hired in March 2015, Manby oversaw a transitional period for the company. Seaworld was facing scrutiny after the documentary “Blackfish” was released in 2013–alleging the mistreatment of SeaWorld’s orcas. San Diego State Marketing Lecturer Miro Copic said the park is now moving toward more thrill-oriented rides.

“They’re really focusing on all the other parts of sea life education, making it more interactive,” Copic said. “Showing their rescue efforts so it excites people more about what really an organization like SeaWorld does for the environment.”

SeaWorld said they are adding 15 new rides, attractions and events for 2018.

“Then they’re going to make all these great rides that will be very competitive now. Certainly in San Diego, probably much more aggressive and teen orientated then what’s at say LEGOLAND.”

RELATED: SeaWorld Has Another Disappointing Balance Sheet

For the three months ended Dec. 31, SeaWorld lost $20.4 million, or 24 cents per share. The Orlando, Florida-based company had a loss of $11.9 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

The performance was worse than the per-share loss of 18 cents that Wall Street had expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Quarterly revenue of $265.5 million beat out analyst projections for $260.1 million.

Attendance declined 2.7 percent, but in-park spending climbed slightly.

RELATED: SeaWorld San Diego To Have Last Orca Show Sunday

Attendance has suffered at SeaWorld since the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" suggested that the company's treatment of animals may have led to the deaths of trainers. It announced last year that it would not breed killer whales and would stop using them in shows.

Annual losses widened to $202.4 million, or $2.36 per share. Revenue fell to $1.26 billion from $1.34 billion, the fourth straight year of declines.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. slipped 21 cents to $15.53 in midday trading.

SeaWorld's CEO Joel Manby is stepping down from his post as the theme park operator.

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