Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

Friday’s revelation that SeaWorld executives are under investigation in relation to “Blackfish” is the documentary’s latest blow to the once thriving entertainment company.CNN released “Blackfish” in 2013.SeaWorld said the probes are separate involving one with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the other with the Department of Justice.The filing also indicates the company’s board of directors formed a special committee with legal counsel as to how to handle these investigations on June 16, two days after the company’s shareholder meeting.Seaworld also said Chairman David D’Alessandro, who was voted out by at a shareholder meeting this month, will continue as the board’s non-executive chairman till December 31. Part of the reason for keeping him around is to help deal with the investigation, the board said. The chairman offered to resign immediately after the meeting, but the board chose to keep D’Alessandro through the end of the year, when he’ll step down, the company said in Friday’s filing. The film argued that the water park was mistreating its orca whales by confining them in small tanks, Bloomberg reports, though SeaWorld’s website denies this. The company announced past year it would end its orca breeding program and would transition the killer whale shows to more natural and educational “encounters”. The final orca conceived through the breeding program before it was ended was born in April.Though it did not specify in the filing which specific statements the government inquiries are probing, SeaWorld had previously reported having significantly lower revenues in 2014 and even more so in 2015 as a result of the backlash regarding its alleged ill-treatment off orcas in captivity. The company owns 12 theme and water parks in the USA under brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Sesame Place and has announced plans to expand internationally.Photo Credit: The killer whale Tilikum is shown in a scene from the documentary “Blackfish”.SeaWorld has fought back.