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SeaWorld CEO resigns amid coronavirus furloughs

Marc G. Swanson serving as interim CEO at least through reopening of parks

ORLANDO, Fla. – SeaWorld has named a temporary chief executive officer following the resignation of Sergio D. Rivera, according to the news release.

Rivera, the most recent chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. notified the company of his decision to resign last week, days after SeaWorld announced 90% of employees would be furloughed amid closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Company officials said Rivera also stepped down from his duties as a member of the company’s board of directors.

According to the release, Rivera said his resignation was due to disagreements over the board’s involvement in the decision making at SeaWorld.

Rivera was on the job for less than five months.

[RELATED: SeaWorld furloughs 90% of employees amid coronavirus pandemic closures]

His resignation was effective as of Saturday, the same day the board appointed Marc G. Swanson, SeaWorld Entertainment’s chief financial officer and treasurer, to serve as interim chief executive officer, the release said.

SeaWorld officials said Swanson has been with the company for nearly 20 years and has previously served as interim CEO.

Swanson is expected to remain in the role at least through the reopening of SeaWorld’s theme parks, which are currently closed in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Once the parks resume normal operations, the board will review the role, company officials said.

SeaWorld announced March 13 it would close its Florida parks to prevent the spread of the virus, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Adventure Island, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Discovery Cove.

Workers were temporarily furloughed without pay as of April 1. Furloughed employees are eligible for unemployment benefits, according to company officials.

In the release, SeaWorld officials said the company’s executive officers have agreed to reduce their base salaries by 20% until the company’s theme parks substantially resume normal operations.

SeaWorld officials did not say how long they expect parks to stay closed or when workers would be able to return.

During SeaWorld’s closure, animal care experts will continue to look after the health and well being of the animals inside, officials said.

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