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AP Photo/John Raoux

Merlin Entertainments has approached SeaWorld Entertainment about a possible investment, as first reported yesterday by Bloomberg. SeaWorld shares spiked in the aftermarket on the news, increasing its market cap at one point to nearly $1.5 billion.

Why it matters: Sea World's reaction to this approach may give some insights into its level of desperation, four years after the critical Black Fish documentary. Reports are that it wants to sell the entire company, but Merlin likely is only seeking the Busch Garden parks given its internal policy against keeping marine mammals in captivity. If it proceeds with Merlin, that means Sea World isn't expecting suitors for the whole package.

Key number is 23. That's the per share price that China's Zhonghong Zhuoye Group paid earlier this year to buy a 21% stake in Sea World from The Blackstone Group. Yesterday, Sea World shares closed at just $14.11.

Bloomberg goes deeper: "The offer comes as SeaWorld... struggles to stem declines in sales and the stock price of the Orlando-based park owner once famous for its killer whales. For Merlin, a deal by the operator of the London Eye and Madame Tussauds waxworks would mark a continuation of its strategy to expand internationally to cope with a drop in day-trippers to the British capital following terrorist attacks in London and Manchester."

Go deeper

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.

8 hours ago - World

New Zealand authorities charge 13 parties over deadly volcano eruption

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at New Zealand's parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Tantrum Photography via Getty Images

New Zealand authorities laid safety violation charges Monday against 10 organizations and three individuals over the fatal Whakaari/White Island volcanic disaster last December, per a statement from the agency WorksSafe.

Details: WorksSafe declined to name those charged as they may seek name suppression in court. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said government agencies GNS Science, which monitors volcanic activity, and the National Emergency Management Agency were among those charged over the "horrific tragedy" that killed 22 people.