SeaWorld to Eliminate 350 Jobs, Including in San Diego, Amid Declining Park Attendance

SeaWorld San Diego visitors view an orca whale through a window at the park on Aug 14, 2014. (Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

SeaWorld San Diego visitors view an orca whale through a window at the park on Aug 14, 2014. (Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

SeaWorld, which has been cutting costs after a rough few years, announced Wednesday that it’s laying off 350 employees in the face of low park attendance.

“It is an unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of the restructuring that some positions will be lost,” spokeswoman Aimée Jeansonne Becka said in a statement.

The layoffs include some open jobs that won’t be filled, and are mostly focused on administrative positions, Becka said. They’ll primarily affect the company’s corporate office, as well as its parks in Orlando and San Diego.

Seventy-nine positions in San Diego are included in the layoffs, SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz told KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego. The cuts would not affect the animal rescue and rehabilitation positions.

At the beginning of 2017, SeaWorld employed 5,000 full-time workers and 8,300 part-time workers, according to a corporate filing. It currently operates 12 parks across the U.S.

SeaWorld’s attendance for the first half of 2017 was down by roughly 353,000 guests compared to the first half of 2016, according to the company’s August earnings report.

The declines were “largely concentrated at the company’s SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Diego,” the company said, adding that “public perception issues” were a particular concern in California.

The company released the following statement, according to KSWB:

“Today SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. implemented the latest phase of our previously announced company-wide cost initiative. Approximately 350 positions across the company will be impacted by these changes, including open positions that will not be filled. This ongoing work to improve efficiency is focused on administrative functions and non-guest facing positions, and we are redeploying resources from the related cost savings into our growth initiatives. This includes intensifying our efforts related to marketing SeaWorld to drive growth in park attendance, while maintaining our commitment to the guest experience.

We do not take this task lightly. It is an unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of the restructuring that some positions will be lost. For those employees, we are offering severance benefits and outplacement assistance to help with their transition.

We remain committed to creating world-class guest experiences, providing comprehensively for the care of all our animals, and continuing our company’s focus on stranded marine animal rescue and ocean conservation initiatives.”

SeaWorld has been on a mission to rebuild its brand in the wake of protests over its treatment of killer whales — a problem that was highlighted in the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”