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Joel Manby resigns as SeaWorld CEO as operator launches search for successor

SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has resigned from his position as the company’s CEO, with the troubled operator launching a search to find a permanent successor following the move.

Manby, who was named CEO in March 2015, had taken numerous steps to turn around the company’s fortunes, which has struggled in the wake of Blackfish – the 2013 anti-SeaWorld documentary which focuses on the killer whale Tilikum and the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

Prior to Manby’s appointment, between 2012 and 2015, attendance at SeaWorld fell by 7.5 per cent, a drop of 1.84 million visitors. To combat this, he introduced a five-point plan focused on “Experiences That Matter” – an extensive rebranding effort that included the elimination of theatrical orca shows and the promise that the operator’s current generation of orcas would be its last.

Under its transition plan, chief parks operations officer John Reilly will succeed Manby on a temporary basis, with current board chair Yoshikazu Maruyama becoming interim executive chair.

“I am so proud of this company and all we have accomplished to position SeaWorld for continued success by providing fun and truly meaningful experiences that connect our guests to the natural world,” said Manby. “John is an ideal choice to lead the company, and I feel confident that I leave SeaWorld in incredibly capable hands. I look forward to continuing to work with Yoshi, John, and the entire board during the transition.”

Reilly has a wealth of experience in the theme park realm, having worked with the company for 32 years, and has previously served as park president of SeaWorld San Diego and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, among other roles.

“With one of our most compelling lineups of new rides and attractions, new pricing plans, and comprehensive new sales, marketing and communications initiatives, we are confident we will maintain and accelerate our current momentum under John’s experienced direction,” said Maruyama.

“Over the past three years, Joel has worked tirelessly to strengthen SeaWorld’s position as a company that combines entertainment, education, and its important mission to protect marine life and the oceans. Our improving fourth quarter and positive year-to-date trends give us confidence that the steps we have taken position us well for 2018.”

SeaWorld  Joel Manby  Blackfish  Tilikum  Experiences That Matter  Yoshikazu Maruyama  John Reilly 
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SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has resigned from his position as the company’s CEO, with the troubled operator launching a search to find a permanent successor following the move. Manby, who was named CEO in March 2015, had taken numerous steps to turn around the company’s fortunes, which has struggled in the wake of Blackfish – the 2013 anti-SeaWorld documentary which focuses on the killer whale Tilikum and the death of
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Manby had taken a number of steps to turn around SeaWorld's fortunes
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