Activism Environment

SeaWorld Announces End to Orca Shows

David R. Tribble, Wikimedia Commons
Written by Ethan M. Long

SeaWorld has announced that it will begin to phase it out their infamous killer whale show, which has been the subject of mass criticism, according to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which highlighted the violent captivity of one of the park’s killer whales, spurred protest against the park and its trainers.

Amid criticism, the CEO of SeaWorld, Jim Atchinson, stepped down from the position in December of last year. According to the BBC, shares of the company had “fallen 44 percent” in the months leading up to Atchinson’s decision. The Guardian reported in August that the corporation had “suffered an 84 percent collapse in profits.”

The decision by SeaWorld was likely the result of the loss of patronage mixed with a new bill to be introduced in Congress that would have put a stop to the shows.

Last Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he would introduce new legislation that would threaten the future of Sea World’s famed attraction. Titled the “Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act,” it’s purpose is to “prohibit the taking, importation, and exportation of Orcas and Orca products for public display, and for other purposes.”

The legislation would, in effect, prohibit the issuing of any permit that would allow “the taking or importation of any marine mammal of the species Orcinus orca, or any marine mammal product that consists, or is composed in whole or in part, of such species, for the purpose of public display.’’

It would also prohibit the breeding of Orcas in captivity, stating that it “shall be unlawful for any person to artificially inseminate or breed a marine mammal of the species Orcinus orca for exhibition purposes.’’

The Associated Press reported in October that a $100 million expansion of the tanks holding the San Diego park’s killer whales had been approved by the California Coastal Commission with the agreement that breeding would be prohibited.

According to the Union-Tribune, the decision to phase out the killer whale show was announced today as “part of a comprehensive strategy”…”to re-position the embattled company amid persistent criticisms of hit it treats its orcas.”

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Current CEO Joel Manby gave a presentation today in which he outlined a “Roadmap to Stabilize & Grow.”

The mammals won’t be phased out entirely, as the report states that a “new orca experience” that attendees will be able to explore in 2017 will be “‘informative’ and designed to take place in a more natural setting that would carry a ‘conservation message inspiring people to act.’”

CNBC reports that the company’s shares rose “as much as 3 percent ahead of the company’s investor day event” taking place today. It is the first such investor day the company has had.

Today’s news is not only a win for the activists who have passionately called on SeaWorld to reform their practices, but for everyone concerned about the pain and suffering of captive orcas, and the safety of the trainers who worked with them. While loss of profit may be a defining factor in their decision to phase the show out, it is surely a step in the right direction for the company.

Source: San Diego Tribune

About the author

Ethan M. Long

Ethan Long is a journalist based out of Boston, MA.

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SeaWorld Announces End to Orca Shows

by Ethan M. Long
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