The days of SeaWorld’s theatrical orca shows have come to an end, as the leading theme park and entertainment company has announced that it will no longer breed killer whales (orcas). The whales currently in SeaWorld’s care will be the last generation of orcas at the theme park.
Instead, the company is planning to introduce new, more natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. The new programs, beginning in SeaWorld’s San Diego park next year and the San Antonio and Orlando parks in 2019, will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health. Additionally, SeaWorld announced its new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its goal of educating more than 20 million visitors annually on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretative programs at the parks; plus expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals, and other marine creatures.
“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,” said Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. in a press release. Manby went on to express his excitement for this new chapter in the company’s history stating, “We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes… 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.”
Seaworld’s current population of orcas will continue to receive the highest-quality care as they live out the rest of their lives at the company’s park habitats. Guests will be able to observe these orcas through the new educational encounters, and in viewing areas within the existing habitats. For more information, visit seaworldparks.com.