Seaworld announced early Thursday that the orcas currently in their care will be the last generation at their parks and they will cease all breeding as of today.
The company also revealed they will end all theatrical shows starring the killer whales and instead will be introducing natural orca encounters “as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals.” With new programs dedicated to the safety and well-being of these animals, Seaworld will begin this transition first at their San Diego park next year followed by San Antonio and then Orlando by 2019.
“SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.”
In a press release released in conjunction with the announcement, Seaworld also pointed out that they do not take marine animals from the wild and have not collected an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years. The remaining orcas that are currently in their care were either born in captivity or have spent almost their entire lives under human care. Seaworld claims they would not survive in the wild because of environmental concerns.
To that end, they also announced they will be entering into a new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States in a bid to help protect the oceans and marine life as well as educate their guests on animal welfare and conservation issues.
“We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes,” said Manby. “The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals. To that end, SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to be the world’s leading marine animal rescue organization, to advocate for an end to the commercial killing of whales and seals and an end to shark finning.”
Guests at the parks will continue to be able to observe the last remaining orcas under their care through these newly announced “educational encounters” and in viewing areas that are already in existence.