The investigations concern "disclosures and public statements made by the Company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the Blackfish documentary, and trading in the company's securities", according to the filing. They also pointed out in the filing that the company has been cooperating with the government inquiries, and will continue to cooperate with any inquiries or requests that it would make. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission will also look at trading in the Orlando, Florida-based company's securities before and during August 2014, according to a filing Friday.
"Blackfish" chronicled the debate over captive killer whales and the negative effects they experience in captivity, with a particular focus on an orca named Tilikum that killed a SeaWorld trainer in 2010.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) shares declined Monday as the company faces a federal investigation. SeaWorld and the Department of Justice would not comment about the ongoing inquiry by the DOJ, while the SEC would not respond to several messages left.
CNN released "Blackfish" in 2013. SeaWorld has since made plans to change its practices, ending its orca-breeding program and redesigning its shows to depict the animals in natural habitats instead of having them perform tricks. SeaWorld had denounced the film, dedicating an entire page of its website "SeaWorld Cares" to fight the "propaganda".
In response to a question during a call to discuss its quarterly results in March 2014, then-Chief Executive Jim Atchison said the company had seen "no noticeable impact on our business", and that national surveys and data collected by the company "don't reflect any shift in sentiment about intent to visit our parks".
SeaWorld also said that its killer whales that now were in its care are the last generation that will be kept enclosed in its water parks.