SeaWorld CEO to step down as park attendance drops

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SeaWorld CEO to step down as park attendance drops
Jim Atchison, right, President & CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, speaks during a news conference at the killer whale underwater viewing area of SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010. SeaWorld will restart its killer whale shows this weekend after Tilikum, the largest orca in captivity, dragged a trainer to her death in the water at the Orlando park. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
This image provided by SeaWorld San Diego shows mom and baby killer whales swimming together at SeaWorld San Diego's Shamu Stadium, Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, in San Diego. Kasatka, a killer whale who is approximately 37 years old, gave birth to the calf Thursday under the watchful eyes of SeaWorld's zoological team. The calf is estimated to weigh between 300 and 350 pounds and measure 6 to 7 feet. The gender of the calf is not yet known. (AP Photo/SeaWorld San Diego, Mike Aguilera)
In this April 10, 2014 photo, Sea World trainer Michelle Shoemaker hugs killer whale Kayla as she works on a routine before a show, in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has faced criticism over its treatment of its captive killer whales since the release of the highly-critical documentary, "Blackfish," last year. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this April 23, 2014 photo, pilot whales swim in a pool, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at Sea World theme park in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has faced criticism over its treatment of its captive killer whales since the release of the highly-critical documentary, "Blackfish," last year. Regardless of survival rates, critics say keeping intelligent marine mammals in captivity is detrimental to their well-being. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
This image provided by SeaWorld San Diego shows mom and baby killer whale swimming together at SeaWorld San Diego's Shamu Stadium, Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, in San Diego. Kasatka, a killer whale who is approximately 37 years old, gave birth to the calf Thursday under the watchful eyes of SeaWorld's zoological team. The calf is estimated to weigh between 300 and 350 pounds and measure 6 to 7 feet. The gender of the calf is not yet known. As with any killer whale birth, the mother and calf will be observed round the clock for the first few days. (AP Photo/SeaWorld San Diego, Mike Aguilera)
Killer whale Tilikum, right, watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 7, 2011.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Killer whales Tilikum, right, and Trua swim by as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 7, 2011.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Kelly Flaherty Clark, left, director of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando, and trainer Joe Sanchez work with killer whales Tilikum and Trua, right, during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 7, 2011.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
In this photo taken March 7, 2011, Kelly Flaherty Clark, left, director of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando, and trainer Joe Sanchez work with killer whales Tilikum and Trua, right, during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld's three theme parks are slowly working to get trainers back in the water with killer whales, one year after a 6-ton orca named Tilikum suddenly dragged a trainer off a platform by her hair and drowned her. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
In a March 7, 2011 photo, trainers Joe Sanchez, left, Brian Faulkner and Kelly Aldrich, right, work with killer whales Trua, front, Kayla, center, and Nalani during the Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld's three theme parks are slowly working to get trainers back in the water with killer whales, one year after a 6-ton orca named Tilikum suddenly dragged a trainer off a platform by her hair and drowned her. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Trainer Joe Sanchez, left, and killer whales Nalani, center, and Malia wave to guests during the Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 7, 2011.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 file photo, a killer whale raises its head out of the water during the first show since an orca killed a trainer at the SeaWorld theme park in Orlando, Fla. The latest killer whale involving Tilikum at SeaWorld attack raises anew the question of whether some animals, especially the biggest ones, have any business being tamed. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, Pool, File)
SeaWorld trainers and killer whales wave to the audience Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, during the first show after the death of a trainer at the theme park in Orlando, Fla. A spokesman for SeaWorld said 2,200 people watched the show. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, Pool)
Jim Atchison, president and CEO SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, speaks during a news conference Friday, February 26, 2010, with a killer whale behind observation window, at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. SeaWorld will restart its killer whale shows this weekend after Tilikum, the largest orca in captivity, dragged veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau to her death in the water at the Orlando park. (Photo by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison, third from right, with glasses, joined by SeaWorld Entertainment’s leadership team and team members, rings the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, during the company's IPO, Friday, April 19, 2013, in New York. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 index opened higher early Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Two killer whales are shown at an underwater viewing area of SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010. SeaWorld will restart its killer whale shows this weekend after Tilikum, the largest orca in captivity, dragged a trainer to her death in the water at the Orlando park. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - SeaWorld says that its CEO is stepping down as head of the company and named its chairman as interim leader.

Jim Atchison has served as CEO and president of the theme park company since 2009. SeaWorld says he will become vice chairman. Chairman David D'Alessandro will take over as interim CEO in January.

Attendance is dropping at the Orlando, Florida-based company's theme parks. It has been battling negative publicity surrounding its treatment of killer whales following the documentary "Blackfish" that suggested its treatment of the animals may have led to the death of trainers.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. also said Thursday that it will eliminate an unspecified number of jobs as it cuts costs.

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