There has been a lot of pressure put on SeaWorld for its questionable treatment of its animals — particularly after the release of the hit documentary Blackfish.
After the declining health of famous orca Tilikum, the popular animal park has finally decided to cave to protestors.
SeaWorld announced Thursday morning they will end their killer whale breeding program and take a “new direction”.
The 24 orcas that are spread out across three theme parks will ultimately be the final generation of killer whales kept in captivity.
The company released a statement saying:
“SeaWorld has been listening and we’re changing. Society is changing and we’re changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guests to take action to protect wild animals and wild places.”
SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby addressed the decision in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, saying the remaining whales would remain in captivity because:
“Most of our orcas were born at SeaWorld, and those that were born in the wild have been in our parks for the majority of their lives. If we release them into the ocean, they will likely die.”
This decision is most likely due to the park being pressured by the California Coastal Commission who approved a $100 million expansion at San Diego’s SeaWorld location — but only if they stopped their captive breeding program.
At the time, Manby said the ruling on the funding was “inhumane” — so apparently he’s changed his tune only to try and help public perception.
As a result of the decision, animal rights activists are obviously thrilled. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, said the announcement is:
“…a monumental and important first step forward in achieving a more humane business model.”
What do you think of SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding orcas?
[Image via seaworldorlando/Instagram.]