Published: June 27, 2008 at 10:47 PM
OK -- I will freely admit I did not see this one coming.
I will say that I'm going to reserve judgment until I see what ultimately happens with the parks.
I will also say that, if the Sea World parks are suddenly "pushed out of the nest," as it were, as in operating without the backing of AB, they will have to compete on their own merits. Feed the public the same pablum they've been dishing out for the last few years, and the results will likely be unattractive to say the least.
As a side note -- While "animal conservation" may indeed have been one of their objectives, at some distant point in their past, I don't believe it is currently a big priority with them. In fact, one of Sea World's senior people told me to my face, TWENTY-FOUR YEARS ago, that Sea World's top-priority objective was to make money. Period.
If "animal conservation" was a primary goal for them, I have some questions: How, exactly, are they defining the phrase? What are their goals in that area? And how are they measuring their progress? As it stands now, the phrase is like saying "McDonalds sells healthy foods."
In any case -- this may ultimately help level the playing field for competing oceanariums that may not be as much in the public view as Sea World (yes, there ARE other oceanariums, and some bloody good ones at that!)
One thing's for certain: Anheuser-Busch would not have put Sea World, and their other parks, up for sale unless something at the business level was wrong. My guess is that, just maybe, the parks were not making the kind of money that AB expected of them.
If that's the case, Sea World will probably need to make some serious changes in order to survive once they're officially "cut loose."