SeaWorld will no longer breed orcas — also known as killer whales — the company said on Thursday. The current pod will live out their lives at the company’s park habitats, and then that will be that.
“Times have changed, and we are changing with them,” SeaWorld said. “The killer whales currently in our care will be the last generation of killer whales at SeaWorld. The company will end all orca breeding as of today.”
Surely, pressure from the documentary “Blackfish” is being felt behind the scenes at the parks. The protests that have been ongoing since the 2013 release probably haven’t helped.
Still, there is this one last generation of orcas for fans to visit, as Takara became pregnant last year. And SeaWorld is cashing in on it with new orca encounters, which promise not to resemble the theatrical shows.
“These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise and overall health,” the company wrote online. “Our existing show pools and viewing areas will be redesigned into a more naturalistic setting and we will continue to present the whales at scheduled times before a guest audience.”
The transformation will begin in San Diego next year, followed by San Antonio and Orlando in 2019. In captivity, females live about 29 years and males live about 17 years. Life just isn’t fair, fellas.
“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. “We’ve helped make orcas among the most beloved marine mammals on the planet. 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 experience these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.”
“SeaWorld’s commitment to end breeding of orcas is a long-held goal of many animal advocacy organizations, and we commend the company for making this game-changing commitment,” added Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
SeaWorld has not collected an orca from the wild in almost 40 years.