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SeaWorld to build bigger enclosures for killer whales in U.S.


ORLANDO, Fla., Aug 15 (Reuters) - Theme park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said on Friday it would nearly double the size of its San Diego killer whale tank and expand similar enclosures in Florida and Texas amid criticism over its treatment of the animals.

The company's amusement parks have come under attack after its handling of orcas was scrutinized in the 2013 film "Blackfish," which documented the killing of a trainer at the company's OrlandoFlorida, park by a whale.

The company's shares rose 3 percent in early Friday trading before tapering off in the afternoon to trade up nearly 1 percent. Its shares lost more than a third of their value earlier this week when the company slashed revenue forecasts in part over flagging attendance it said was tied to the controversy.

"The new projects will build on SeaWorld's legacy of providing state-of-the-art, innovative homes for its animals," the company said in a statement.

Construction of a new, 1.5-acre whale tank at the company's park in California will begin next year and be completed in 2018, it said. The project will include a "fast water current," which is intended to stimulate the whales by allowing them to swim against moving water.