TAMPA, Fla., July 31 Southwest Airlines and
SeaWorld said on Thursday they are ending a longtime marketing
partnership, as the airline faces pressure from animal rights
groups critical of the marine life conditions at its popular
The companies called it a mutual decision to drop the
contract when it expires at the end of the year. SeaWorld
Entertainment Inc and Southwest Airlines Co
began joint promotions in 1988.
"The companies decided not to renew the contract based on
shifting priorities," they said in a joint statement.
Southwest now wants to focus on international services and
local market efforts, while SeaWorld is looking to new markets
in Latin America and Asia, they said.
The announcement followed a petition drive by animal rights
activists asking the airline to end the partnership.
SeaWorld has faced increasing scrutiny over conditions for
its killer whales, following last year's broadcast of the
documentary "Blackfish," telling the story of an orca that
killed a trainer at SeaWorld's park in Orlando, Florida, in
SeaWorld also has theme parks in California and Texas.
The companies said they would continue to work together
through Southwest Vacations.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Eric Walsh)