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Free whaley: attendances were down by more than 100,000 in the second quarterSeaWorld

SeaWorld, the aquatic-themed entertainment firm part-owned by private equity giant Blackstone, has seen profits collapse by 84% as attendances plummet off the back of allegations it mistreats whales.

Results for the second quarter show that net income crashed from $37.4m (£24.1m) to $5.8m. Revenue also dropped from $405m to $392m, while the number of people visiting fell by more than 100,000 to 6.48 million.

SeaWorld hit the headlines in 2013 after the film Blackfish claimed the organisation mistreated orca whales, leading to violent behaviour and the deaths of three people.

In the immediate aftermath, attendances were rocked, the company's share price collapsed and the chief executive left.

The latest set of results suggest that the firm is still struggling to shake off the negative publicity, with the company itself admitting it faces "continued brand challenges".

Chief executive Joel Manby said: "We realise we have much work ahead of us to recover more of our attendance base, increase revenue and improve our performance.

"On the reputation side, early feedback on our campaign has been positive, however, we recognise that fully resolving our brand challenges in California will require sustained focus and commitment to correct misinformation."

SeaWorld has recently embarked on a marketing drive to counter claims made in Blackfish and by animal rights groups. It has also slashed ticket prices.

Animal rights group PETA has launched a series of campaigns against SeaWorld, claiming that the organisation "enslaves animals".

PETA's UK director Mimi Bekhechi said: "SeaWorld's reputation has tanked, and its share price is digging a hole to Australia, which is fair and right given the park's total failure to respond to public and expert criticism of its cruel confinement of orcas and other magnificent marine mammals.

"The public now sees this marine abusement park for what it is: a corporation that profits from depriving highly intelligent and social orcas and dolphins of everything that is natural and important to them, sexually stimulating and artificially inseminating them so as to produce more orcas to be sold and forcing them to perform meaningless tricks."

Manby, drafted in to help turn the company around, has rubber-stamped plans for new shark and dolphin attractions in Orlando and San Antonio respectively.