- Myth. Seaworld cares about conservation. If Seaworld is so greedy, why would they spend money on conservation programs?
It cannot be denied that Seaworld does have conservation programs and they do conserve local wildlife. However, the money that Seaworld Corp. itself spends on these conservation and rehabilitation efforts barely registers. Funding for the program largely comes from donation and grants. Let’s break this down:
According to the Seaworld Busch Garden Conservation Fund, the annual cash recieved is about 1 million dollars. So, where exactly does this money come from?
In 2009 24.5% of the million came from charity events, 9.5% from merchandise donations, 11% from Institutional Donations, 5% from other, 17% from park guest donations, 1.5% from Interests, and 9.5% from Internet. 1
22% of that $1 million (or $109,126) came from Seaworld Busch Entertainment Corporation itself. Just judging by those numbers it doesn’t seem like much. But let’s go a bit farther and put that in perspective: Busch Entertainment Corporation Parks (including Seaworld) generated $400 million in the 2009 second quarter.2 (down 4.2% from 2008!)
That means only %0.25 of the 2009 Spring revenue (April-June) was spent on the entire year of conservation. Average it out over the whole year and the percentage gets lower. Most of this money was from goverement grants. Seaworld’s attitude toward financially supporting conservation is essentially, “a penny here, a penny there.”
Seaworld is currently owned and operated by the Blackstone Investment Group based in New York City and is under a subsidiary corporation of 9 parks named Sea World Park & Entertainment. They and their affiliates are a buisness and so need to bring in profit. That isn’t to say that they need to bring in money, but that there needs to be more money coming into their pockets, than money that is going out.
So what about those “big guys up top”? What exactly do they get paid and how are they contributing to education and conservation? Blackstone Entertainment CEO Steven Schwarzman paid $1 million for his 60th birthday party in 2007, and earned $1 million dollars every day in fiscal 2006, ending the year with $398.3 million. His home is a mere 7,000 square feet bigger than the entire Shamu Stadium.3 Is Seaworld Corporation really all about conservation? Do they focus on corporate greed or animal need?
Seaworld’s conservation efforts are admirable, but they are not funded by Seaworld Corporation itself.
Seaworld often advertises that they support other worthy organizations by redirecting your monetary donations – not actually spending their own. Giving a little bit of money to a conservation fund will encourage people to take a more positive view of Seaworld boosting their visitors and thus their profit.
3 Michael J. de la Merced, “Dealbook — Inside Stephen Schwarzman’s Birthday Bash,” New York Times, Feb. 14, 2007