Seaworld Has a Whale of a Debt in Their Financial Tank

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Seaworld has accumulated a mind-boggling $1.2 billion dollar debt, and is taking steps to refinance in hopes of saving itself $14 million a year in interest. Standard and Poors, the company that evaluates the credit-worthiness of businesses, gives Seaworld  a moderately low BB- rating, in spite of Seaworld’s efforts to restructure:

"The 'BB-' corporate credit rating reflects SeaWorld's low profit margin
compared to its theme park operator peers, cyclical and seasonal operating
performance, and geographic concentration in Florida," said Standard & Poor's
credit analyst Ariel Silverberg, "and management's plan to increase capital
spending this year, which may reduce discretionary cash flow." These factors
are only modestly offset by SeaWorld's position as a distant second-largest
U.S. theme park company in terms of revenue (after The Walt Disney Co.) and
moderate debt leverage.
"While the proposed refinancing transaction will slightly reduce fixed charges
and extend maturities," said Ms. Silverberg, "we view the transaction as
neutral to the credit risk of SeaWorld."

Seaworld alternately blames the bad economy and public reaction to the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau last year for it’s financial woes, and has taken steps to modify their shows in hopes of bringing back tourist dollars.  The newly redesigned show will keep trainers out of the water, and is touted to place more  emphasis on education  (yet as activist Ric O’Barry points out, the logic of keeping whales in tanks to illustrate the natural world is a bit twisted) and they are counting on the public to somehow be seduced into giving up it’s hard earned money to keep Seaworld afloat.
As a commenter to this public relations video noted:  If it is educational, why are they referring to female orcas as ‘he’?
Ric O’Barry counters this point of view in talking about the captive whale “Lolita” whose family still swims free in the waters near Seattle, and includes remarks by the Center for Whale Research senior scientist, Ken Balcomb:

Last year Costco ran a survey of it’s members, and reported that only around 17% feel that keeping wild animals in captivity for our amusement is right.  It is time for the amusement parks to stop capturing and breeding whales and dolphins, there is nothing amusing about it.

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