In a statement made by SeaWorld, the theme park operator has decided to end the controversial orca breeding program that has been part of an ongoing controversy since 2013 following the release of the Blackfish documentary. Since since the film’s release, which documents Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld, the parks have received many criticisms over housing killer whales in captivity.
SeaWorld hasn’t collected an orca from the wild in over 40 years, which means this will be the last generation of orcas that will be in SeaWorld’s care. Joel Manby, the president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment reveals that many critics would like to see the orcas released into the wild, which, according to Manby, would not be a wise decision.
Many of the orcas have been at the parks the majority of their lives, and their release into the wild would mean they will likely die. Manby notes that no orca or dolphin born under human care has survived release into the wild. For as long as they will remain at the SeaWorld parks Manby says, the marine animals “will receive the highest-quality care, based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science and zoological best practices.”
SeaWorld said in a statement that “Guests will be able to observe these orcas through the new educational encounters and in viewing areas within the existing habitats.” SeaWorld is partnering with The Humane Society to help raise awareness of animal welfare, to educate guests on conservation issues, and to offer humane food options and serve only sustainable seafood.
San Diego’s orca shows will end in 2017, while the San Antonio and Orlando parks will end the shows by 2019.
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