On 5 November 2020 the WCA reached out to BGH Capital, an Australian based private equity firm who are set to take over Village Roadshow Ltd this month. Village Roadshow is the parent company of Sea World on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Our letter, addressed to BGH founding partners, Robin Bishop, Ben Grey and Simon Harle, urged the company to consider the increasing national and international governmental and tourism industry moves away from keeping and breeding cetaceans in captivity.
As well we raised the recently evidenced financial burden and serious health risks from zoonotic disease involved when keeping and interacting with large wild animals in captive environments.
The Australian Federal Government provided ‘rescue’ funding to Australian Zoos and Aquariums to the tune of $94.6 million and from the Queensland Treasury Corporation and ‘existing lenders’ a further $70 million was announced to cover Village Roadshows costs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Wayne Phillips, Head of Marine Science at Sea World was quoted in the media stating “To feed one dolphin for about a week will cost over $1,000. I think currently we’re spending more than $2 million a month.…”
Despite these huge tax-payer funded bail outs, in addition to job keeper supports for the parks’ staff, Mr Bikash Randhawa, Chief Operating Officer at Sea World, said his theme park was ‘bleeding’.
The WCA’s letter asked that, in line with evolving community expectations, BGH Capital works to change the outdated thinking within Village Roadshow’s management and move to re-imagine the decades old Sea World model. We recommended a phase out of keeping cetaceans for human entertainment, ending all breeding of these species and working towards providing genuine sanctuary for the remaining dolphins at the park, where they will be kept in more appropriate conditions that meet their species specific needs; in a more natural and respectful way.
In addition, WCA colleagues World Animal Protection (WAP) also contacted BGH Capital and ramped up their Sea World campaign, launching a huge billboard near BGH Capital’s Melbourne Office.
To date, neither the WCA nor WAP has receive a response from BGH Capital.