From the SeaWorld prospectus:
Featuring animals at our theme parks involves risks.
Our theme parks feature numerous displays and interactions that include animals. All animal enterprises involve some degree of risk. All animal interaction by our employees and our guests in attractions in our theme parks, where offered, involves risk. While we maintain strict safety procedures for the protection of our employees and guests, injuries or death, while rare, have occurred in the past. For example, in February 2010, a trainer was killed while engaged in an interaction with a killer whale. Following this incident, we were subject to an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which resulted in three citations concerning alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and certain regulations thereunder. We have appealed certain of these citations and the appeal process is ongoing. In connection with this incident, we reviewed and revised our safety protocols and made certain safety-related facility enhancements. This incident has also been the subject of significant media attention, including television and newspaper coverage, a documentary and a book, as well as discussions in social media. This incident and similar events that may occur in the future may harm our reputation, reduce attendance and negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, seven killer whales are presently on loan to a third party. Although the occurrence of any accident or injury involving these killer whales would be outside of our control, any such occurrence could negatively affect our business and reputation.
We maintain insurance of the type and in amounts that we believe is commercially reasonable and that is available to animal enterprise related businesses in the theme park industry. We cannot predict the level of the premiums that we may be required to pay for subsequent insurance coverage, the level of any self-insurance retention applicable thereto, the level of aggregate coverage available, or the availability of coverage for specific risks.
Incidents or adverse publicity concerning our theme parks or the theme park industry generally could harm our brands or reputation as well as negatively impact our revenues and profitability.
Our brands and our reputation are among our most important assets. Our ability to attract and retain customers depends, in part, upon the external perceptions of the Company, the quality of our theme parks and services and our corporate and management integrity. The operation of theme parks involves the risk of accidents, illnesses, environmental incidents and other incidents which may negatively affect the perception of guest and employee safety, health, security and guest satisfaction and which could negatively impact our brands or reputation and our business and results of operations. An accident or an injury at any of our theme parks or at theme parks operated by competitors, particularly an accident or an injury involving the safety of guests and employees, that receives media attention, is the topic of a book, film, documentary or is otherwise the subject of public discussions, may harm our brands or reputation, cause a loss of consumer confidence in the Company, reduce attendance at our theme parks and negatively impact our results of operations. Such incidents have occurred in the past and may occur in the future. In addition, other types of adverse publicity concerning our business or the theme park industry generally could harm our brands, reputation and results of operations. The considerable expansion in the use of social media over recent years has compounded the impact of negative publicity.