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SeaWorld says CEO Manby to depart as park attendance slumps

Baby orca dies at SeaWorld

SeaWorld (SEAS) said CEO Joel Manby is stepping down amid a slump in park attendance and a bigger-than-expected loss.

John Reilly, the chief parks operations officer, will take over on an interim basis.

On a per-share basis, the Orlando, Florida, company had a loss of 24 cents, which is worse than the per-share loss of 18 cents that Wall Street had expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

SeaWorld has been under pressure because of its captivity of orcas, or killer whales. Last year, it said it would end live theatrical shows involving the animals, part of an overhaul after years of backlash sparked by the 2013 film "Blackfish," which criticized SeaWorld's treatment of the whales.

"John Reilly is a highly experienced operator with decades of theme park experience and a demonstrated ability to improve performance and drive growth through disciplined execution," said Yoshikazu Maruyama, chairman of SeaWorld's board, in a statement.

The company said fourth-quarter attendance slipped 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier. 

Quarterly revenue of $265.5 million beat out analyst projections for $260.1 million.

Annual losses widened to $202.4 million, or $2.36 per share. Revenue was $1.26 billion.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. rose about 2 percent before the opening bell Tuesday.

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