Saving SeaWorld

Facing a backlash over the treatment of its animals, SeaWorld reveals a plan to save itself
Atchison in Shamu Stadium, Orlando Photographs by Katie Orlinsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Jim Atchison, the chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, holds morning meetings in a conference room down the hall from his corner office, the one with elephant carvings and a ceramic white tiger. On a typical day, Atchison and a team of executives, including Chief Financial Officer Jim Heaney and Chief Zoological Officer Brad Andrews, review various SeaWorld KPIs, or key performance indicators. The KPIs are 40 different metrics, everything from park cleanliness to merchandise sales to food items; this morning they discuss a new pretzel available at the Williamsburg (Va.) Busch Gardens, which is owned by SeaWorld. The company owns 11 theme parks in the U.S., including three right here in Orlando—SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica. Sixty percent of SeaWorld revenue comes from admissions. The rest is in-park spending, and the team is looking for ways to increase the latter, given that figures for the former have been in bad decline for six months straight.

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