Layoffs were happening at SeaWorld San Diego on Friday as part of the parent company’s restructuring to cut about $50 million by the end of next year.
A SeaWorld spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel the number of jobs affected company-wide was 311.
The layoffs came the day after the CEO of SeaWorld’s parent company, Jim Atchison, stepped down and Chairman David D’Alessandro was named to replace him as interim CEO in January.
The statement about the CEO’s departure on Thursday hinted at layoffs, saying SeaWorld was moving forward with its “company-wide cost initiative.”
“This effort will centralize some operations, reduce duplication of functions and increase efficiencies and accelerate execution,” the statement read.
Officials with SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., which operates SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, confirmed on Friday a restructuring at its parks. However, a spokesman was tight-lipped on the number of employees given pink slips or the types of jobs affected in San Diego.
Employees told NBC 7 the atmosphere at SeaWorld was grim, with people crying about the restructuring. One employee told NBC 7 that some employees were finding out when they tried to swipe their badges and weren’t allowed access to the building.
Attendance is dropping at the SeaWorld Entertainment parks as SeaWorld continues to battle 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.
Just last month, SeaWorld announced its third-quarter earnings fell 28 percent from a year ago as attendance fell.
Attendance at its theme parks fell 5.6 percent to 8.4 million in the third quarter from 8.9 million in the same period a year ago, SeaWorld said.
The employees laid off will receive severance packages, the CEO’s statement said.