BUSINESS

SeaWorld To End Killer Whale Show And Start A New Experience

11/09/2015 04:22 EST | Updated 11/09/2015 04:59 EST

SeaWorld is putting an end to its popular (and reviled) killer whale show.

But that doesn't mean its whales won't remain on display for the public.

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby told investors Monday that the shows will be finished by 2017, The Associated Press reported.

But instead of having the whales perform for gawking spectators, SeaWorld will instead organize a whole new orca experience with an emphasis on "conservation," The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

SeaWorld audiences "want experiences that are more natural and look more natural," Manby was quoted saying in a question-and-answer session that was reported in Time.

"We actually think it's a good thing because our guests will resonate with it more. The theatrical production of the show in that market is what they wanted to see less of."

The announcement came as SeaWorld continues to struggle following the release of the anti-whale captivity documentary "Blackfish" in 2013, and a torrent of criticism that has followed.

The company reported revenue growth in its third quarter, but it also had to readjust its earnings projections following closures at three of its parks, as well as "increased costs from legal matters and associated reputation initiatives."

It now stands to make adjusted EBITDA of $360 to $370 million by the end of the year, which is about par with its 2014 results.

Last year, SeaWorld shares fell 30 per cent in its second quarter following rounds of negative publicity. The stock has lost more than half its value over the past two years, and was trading at US$17.91 as of Monday afternoon, down from a peak of US$38.88 in the spring of 2013.

The move also comes amid mounting criticism of Marineland, a Niagara Falls-based theme park where a single orca, Kiska, lives alone in a tank.

Ontario's provincial government passed legislation in May that bans both acquiring and breeding killer whales in captivity.

Kiska, however, is exempt from the bill and will remain at the park.

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