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Legoland: No Interest In SeaWorld


Shares of theme park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (SEAS) fell almost 3 percent in pre-market trading on Wednesday after UK-based Merlin Entertainments Plc (MERL.L) said it is not involved in takeover talks for SeaWorld. Merlin Entertainments is the owner of Legoland theme parks and the Madame Tussauds wax museums.

"We can confirm that Merlin is not involved in any discussions that might lead to acquisition of SeaWorld or any of its constituent parts," Merlin Entertainments stated.

Last week, SeaWorld's shares had benefited from media reports that Merlin Entertainments had approached the company for a potential bid.

SeaWorld was once famous for the captive killer whales at its theme parks. But the company's business has come under fire since the critical 2013 documentary 'Blackfish,' which was about Tilikum, a captive killer whale or orca at SeaWorld Orlando.

Tilikum had dragged a trainer named Dawn Brancheau under the water to her death in his tank at the Orlando park. The whale also killed a trainer at the now-defunct Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia and a man trespassing on SeaWorld Orlando's property.

The documentary claimed that killer whales exhibit increased aggression during captivity. Among other problems, the whales are said to have shorter life spans. The film severely affected the aquatic amusement park's attendance and revenues.

SeaWorld continues to struggle with weak revenues and profit, hurt largely by the continued decline in domestic and international attendance at its theme parks in Orlando, Florida and San Diego.

Last year, SeaWorld announced that it will put an end to captive breeding of killer whales amidst pressure from animal rights activists. It will not collect marine mammals from the wild anymore and also will not release the mammals to the wild or to confined sea cages.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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