It’s a run-of-the-mill Tuesday morning, and Michael Baroni, the general counsel of Palace Entertainment Holdings LLC, has a killer whale problem. Palace’s parent ­company, Madrid-based Parques Reunidos, owns amusement parks and attractions throughout Europe, including a sea life park in France. That park loaned a killer whale to a Six Flags in California for breeding purposes. But suddenly Six Flags wants to give the animal away to an unrelated party in Canada. Now, the parks are in a contractual dispute over one very large marine mammal named Shouka.

Buzzing through the colorful hallways of Palace headquarters in Newport Beach, California, Baroni shakes his head and smiles. Contracts are sacred to the 44-year-old lawyer, who sports nearly invisible Versace glasses and an equally subtle salt-and-pepper goatee. But given Palace’s footprint—40 attractions across the United States that draw more than 13 million visitors a year—it’s not like Baroni hasn’t dealt with an animal or two. There was the woman who wanted to sue because a bird dive-bombed her hat, and the one who claimed emotional trauma when she came face to face with a dolphin. In this instance, Baroni decides to halt that killer whale—and try to keep her in California. Add one more item to his running to-do list.

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