PETA says it has complained to the SEC, accusing SeaWorld leaders of misleading investors about its dolphins’ well-being at shows in the Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio parks.
SeaWorld spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley declined to comment on the Securities and Exchange Commission complaint but said, “Human safety and animal welfare remain our highest priorities.”
PETA’s complaint stems from the SeaWorld’s June annual shareholder’s meeting.
PETA, which holds SeaWorld shares and has fought back and forth with the company for years, asked SeaWorld leadership during the meeting about its “harmful circus-style” dolphin shows that are “disguised as entertainment,” alleging they hurt the animals.
During the meeting, SeaWorld said no animals are injured during the shows.
“SeaWorld’s statements are flatly contradicted by public information and expert opinion demonstrating that dolphins have been injured at SeaWorld in performances and other interactions, and that captivity is physically and psychologically harmful to dolphins and orcas confined there,” PETA wrote in a letter Monday to the SEC. “SeaWorld is acutely aware that animal welfare concerns are material to its current and potential investors.”
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The SEC declined to comment.
In 2018, the SEC fined SeaWorld and its ex-CEO James Atchison $5 million to settle fraud charges for misleading investors about the impact of the anti-whale captivity documentary film “Blackfish.”
For years, SeaWorld’s attendance struggled from the uproar from “Blackfish” and fell further behind in the competition with Universal and Disney World, which have invested millions into new rides based off Harry Potter and Avatar franchises and more.
But the Orlando-based company that runs 12 theme parks across the country has been in a financial uptick for more than a year.
In August, SeaWorld leaders announced growing attendance for the sixth straight quarter.