Atchison addresses the press before being lowered into SeaWorld's famous Shark Encounter exhibit.
Ever since the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld has been struggling to stay afloat amid accusations that it has mistreated both its killer whales and the trainers assigned to care for them, with occasionally deadly consequences. Now, facing declining attendance and declining stock prices, the company has decided to terminate President and CEO Jim Atchison.
"Since the release of Blackfish," said Atchison in a recent press conference, "SeaWorld has been the victim of a media feeding frenzy that has eaten away at both our reputation and our bottom line. At times, it has seemed like you media types felt it was more important to throw scandalous chum to the unreasoning beast of prurient public interest than it was to find out the truth about our park's killer whale program. Throughout this ordeal, I have been held up as some kind of unfeeling monster who delights in the suffering of the helpless. Oddly, that's sort of how I feel about all of you. At any rate, you've all gotten your pound of flesh: SeaWorld's Board of Directors has asked for my resignation. They have also asked that I be eaten by sharks, in full view of the press, in an effort to restore public goodwill toward this wonderful vacation destination, one that does so much good and brings so much joy to the world. So, I guess that's a few pounds of my flesh that you won't be getting.
"I only hope that my brutal, agonizing end, here at SeaWorld and also here on earth, will be sufficient to slake the bloodlust of the seemingly insatiable mob that has taken it upon itself to make war on one of America's most beloved animal icons and the bastion of entertainment and research that it stands for. Finally, I must admit that it gives me no small amount of pleasure to note that I am being fed to sharks as opposed to orcas, because the trainers were unable to guarantee lethal results from the orcas unless I dressed up in a seal suit and rolled in bacon grease. And even in an age of wholesale waterboarding, the government considers that cruel and unusual. Who's a killer now, bitches?"