SeaWorld, long criticized for holding smart, majestic killer whales in captivity, says they will stop breeding these creatures and immediately phase out theatrical orca shows.
The “duh” move comes after nearly three years of pressure from animal rights activists and a rising chorus of criticism from those who’ve seen the documentary Blackfish.
Before this unprecedented decision, SeaWorld had already announced plans to end killer whale shows at their San Diego park after facing regulatory scrutiny in California.
The orca shows will end at its San Diego park in 2017, while the San Antonio and Orlando parks will end the shows by 2019.
Despite the new strategy, killer whales will still likely live at SeaWorld parks for many more years; male orcas can live into their 60s while females can live up to 100. That said, orcas in captivity tend to die much younger.
“They will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science, and zoological best practices,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “Guests will be able to observe these orcas through the new educational encounters and in viewing areas within the existing habitats.”
In what’s being hailed as a clever PR move, SeaWorld is also partnering with their long time critic, the Humane Society, to advocate for the health and welfare of marine life as part of a new, $50 million pledge.
All of which is nice (really!) but also a blatantly cynical ploy to lure more visitors to the park after being decimated by the fallout from Blackfish. We’ll see how that goes…