Finally, it’s a move we have all been waiting impatiently for: SeaWorld San Diego is to pull the plug on its orca show.
Announced online Monday in a document posted by the company, SeaWorld has said that as of next year, its killer whale performances will be phased out.
But unfortunately, that does not mean an end to orcas in captivity: These acts will be replaced with some kind of educational experience involving the animals, albeit supposedly in a more true-to-life setting. As before, SeaWorld claims that the intention is to inform and inspire, not treat the intelligent mammals as circus animals.
The decision follows a series of blows to the organization. SeaWorld quickly fell out of favor after the release of a harrowing documentary film called Blackfish, which exposed the dark truth of the supposedly conservation-centered industry. Although there were many who argued that the documentary was inaccurate and misleading, the message spoke to people and there was a large amount of public backlash. Just six months after a publication demonstrated that orcas in captivity do not live as long as their wild counterparts, the state of California banned the captive breeding of these animals in October of this year.
As part of this long-overdue ruling, SeaWorld San Diego was given the green light for a $100 million (£65 million) expansion to its killer whale tanks, although the company said they would still battle the California Coastal Commission’s decision. Now it seems they have finally backed down, and instead will invest a chunk of this money on developing a resort in the park in collaboration with Evans Hotels.
While this is fantastic news, the fight is certainly not over yet. Other states still permit the captive breeding of orcas, so until this practice is stamped out completely, we can expect to see the exploitation of these animals for entertainment purposes.