Sea World reinstated public relations director Jackie Hill as assistant to the park's president on Friday, but would not comment on which Sea World executive now serves as president of the San Diego park.
Friday's reinstatement, acknowledged in a brief prepared statement, ended Hill's suspension in the aftermath of an accident during a Nov. 21 killer whale performance that left a trainer seriously injured.
Sea World again refused to comment on the status of former Sea World President Jan Schultz, who said Tuesday that he was fired as a scapegoat in connection with the accident. Nor did Sea World mention the fate of marine biologist Lanny Cornell or chief trainer David Butcher, who, according to Schultz, also were fired.
During the past week, Sea World has acknowledged only that "certain employees" were suspended after the accident involving trainer John Sillick on Nov. 21.
Probe of Trainer Injuries
The "suspensions" with pay were ordered during an investigation by four Sea World executives into the a string of serious trainer injuries during the past year.
Word of Hill's reinstatement was Sea World's first public comment since a short statement was released on Tuesday.
Friday's release was issued by Sea World executive Bob Gault, president of Sea World's Orlando park. Gault has been operating Sea World in San Diego on a day-to-day basis since Schultz was removed from his job, a spokeswoman in Orlando said.
Hill's reinstatement came after Gault "asked (the) committee to review their opinion of (Hill's) actions" after the accident. That team "reported that while there was good reason to suspend (Hill during the investigation) it was determined that Ms. Hill was given ambiguous directions by Sea World of San Diego officials."
Declined to Comment
A Sea World spokesman Friday declined to comment on the nature of those "ambiguous directions." The spokesman also refused to say if the company's internal investigation into events surrounding the accident had been completed.
Schultz said Friday that he would "disregard my attorney's advice not to make additional comments and say that I'm very pleased for Jackie Hill. She's the best in the business." Schultz declined, however, to comment further on his relationship with Sea World.
In a related development, Sea World said it plans to expand the recently completed Shamu Stadium by 1,500 seats. Sea World opened the stadium last summer as part of its recently completed $25-million park expansion.
Sea World would not discuss the new seating plans but one industry source said that the recently completed stadium was designed to be expanded.
City, State OK Needed
A former Sea World executive said park managers could not add the 1,500 seats without first gaining approval from the City of San Diego, which owns the Sea World property, and the California Coastal Commission, which controls development along the coast.
Sea World expects to add the new seats by early 1988 with the introduction of a "new Shamu Show concept." The show will incorporate a large video screen similar to those used in football stadiums, according to the release.
Sea World would not comment on whether human trainers will perform in the water alongside the whales in the new shows. Sea World also declined to comment on reports that park maintenance crews had begun to install Plexiglas barriers designed to further separate trainers from the whales.
Also Friday, an afternoon whale show at Sea World was canceled after park officials learned of a bomb threat at Shamu Stadium. Police and fire department officials evacuated bleachers at the stadium shortly before an afternoon performance, but no bomb was found, according to San Diego police spokesman Bill Robinson.
"Obviously it wasn't bona fide," Robinson said. "There was no bomb there."