SeaWorld reorganizes parks management, creating new role of chief parks operations officer

MarketsAssociated Press

Theme park operator SeaWorld, which has been battling negative publicity about the care of its animals, on Friday said it was creating a new post of "chief parks operations officer."

Daniel Brown, who has been in charge of the company's SeaWorld and Discovery Cove Parks since 2010, will take over the new role. The Orlando, Florida-based company said he will have oversight over all 11 of its parks.

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The company also announced other management moves that come after its CEO stepped down in December.

Donald Mills, who was in charge of the Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks, was placed in charge of all three of the company's Orlando locations: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica.

Terry Prather, who was the president of the Orlando parks, will become the company's senior vice president of operations. He will be responsible for safety, environmental aspects, ride operations, and standardization functions in all parks, the company said.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s attendance has been weak since the recession and has fallen in three of its last fourth quarters. It was also stung by negative publicity stemming from the documentary "Blackfish," which suggested the captivity of killer whales may have led to the death of a trainer. The company is cutting jobs as part of a plan intended to save $50 million a year.

SeaWorld President and CEO Jim Atchison stepped down in December as the company worked to turn its business around. Atchison became vice chairman, with Chairman David D'Alessandro taking over as interim CEO.

Shares of SeaWorld fell 4 cents to $17.98 and were unchanged in aftermarket trading. The stock has slumped 44 percent over the last 12 months.