Photographer: Joshua C. Cruey/MCT via Getty Images

SeaWorld Cuts 350 Positions, Plans to Boost Marketing Spending

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is eliminating 350 jobs and taking a $5.1 million charge as the theme-park operator continues to battle sluggish attendance.

The layoffs will be completed by the close of the fourth quarter, the Orlando, Florida-based company said Wednesday in a regulatory filing. The savings will be reinvested in marketing and new rides. SeaWorld had about 5,000 full-time employees and 8,300 part-time at the end of last year.

The firings are part of $25 million in potential cost savings SeaWorld identified in August. The reductions will mostly affect administrative positions at the company’s headquarters and at its San Diego park. Late last year, SeaWorld cut 320 jobs across its 12 locations to end duplication of functions.

The theme-park operator has struggled to boost profit and attendance following a 2013 documentary that criticized the treatment of killer whales in its care. Joel Manby, chief executive officer for the past two years, has ended orca breeding and is redesigning the animal shows and tanks to make them look like natural habitats. New attractions include river rides and roller coasters that aren’t dependent on live animals for entertainment.

In August, SeaWorld cut its earnings forecast for the full year after visitors in the first six months of 2017 fell.

SeaWorld shares were little changed in extended trading. They fell 1.4 percent at the close in New York and have declined 35 percent this year.

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