ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld Entertainment are ending their 25-year-old marketing partnership, officials with both companies said Thursday, as the airline has been urged by animal rights activists to terminate the relationship.
The partnership won't be renewed at the end of the year when the current contract expires. As part of the partnership, three Southwest airplanes had various SeaWorld animals painted on their bodies. Those planes will be painted over to Southwest's traditional look. SeaWorld also had Southwest signs in its parks, and Southwest offered vacation packages to SeaWorld, as it does to other tourist destinations. The vacation packages will continue.
SeaWorld officials said the decision was mutual.
SeaWorld wants to concentrate on growing markets in Latin America and Asia, the marine park company said in a statement.
"Southwest and SeaWorld have enjoyed their long relationship, and wish each other continued success," the statement said.
SeaWorld has parks in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio and San Diego.
Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said it was a business decision as the airline intends to focus on international service.
Earlier this year, animal rights activist held a rally and dropped off a petition at Southwest, urging the airline to end the relationship. The activists cited the documentary "Blackfish," which explores what may have caused the killer whale Tilikum to kill SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
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