SeaWorld to end orca performances in San Diego

Bending to pressure from animal welfare advocates, SeaWorld San Diego is phasing out orca shows in 2017 and replacing the display with one that sets killer whales in a more “natural setting.”

The “new orca experience” will involved conservation information for visitors about how they can help orcas in the wild, the company said yesterday. But the initiative is only planned for the aquarium’s San Diego location, and its current show dubbed One Ocean, will continue through next year.

“The main point is we are listening to our guests,” Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s  president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We’re evolving as a company. We’re always changing and, again, always evolving. That means that 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience called One Ocean.”

“It’s going to be focused more on the natural setting, natural environment and also the natural behaviors of the whales,” he said of the new exhibit.

SeaWorld has been under fire, especially since the release of the documentary Blackfish, to rethink its marine animal entertainment. Those behind Blackfish rejoiced calling the announcement, “Huge news.” Still, animal rights groups were skeptical. PETA said the move is “greatly exaggerated.”


Still, SeaWorld is moving ahead with its public relations campaign.

It also issued this letter to visitors:

“Our purpose at SeaWorld is simple: We inspire people to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.

To achieve our purpose, our mission is to provide family experiences that matter. Through these experiences…

We want people to explore – creating wonder and curiosity.
We want people to be inspired – connecting with their hearts to teach their minds.
We want people to act – joining us to make a better world for animals.

“In developing new experiences in our parks we want guests to explore, to be inspired and, ultimately, to act and we feel our parks are uniquely suited to creating meaningful and fun vacations — experiences that matter,” SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said.

Visit any one of our parks, and you’ll see firsthand how we encourage exploration, inspiring guests to find that one moment that will change their world, helping them to become champions for the wild. See how you can find that moment that could change your world:

“We hope that experiencing animals in our parks moves our guests to a deeper understanding of the plight of all animals – and an increasingly threatened natural environment — and inspires those guests to help conserve the world we share,” Manby said.

Students, researchers and industry leaders have already joined SeaWorld in taking action. Watch this to learn their stories and hear how SeaWorld is part of the solution and making a better world for animals:

“The overwhelming majority of adults – nearly 95 percent according to research we have seen — tell us that they believe that visiting a zoo or aquarium can inspire conservation,” Manby said. “We see a growing trend within our core guest demographic that a vacation can and should be more than just fantasy and entertainment. Guests want to know that they’re making a difference for the world we share and our parks deliver on that promise.””

Main Photo SeaWorld

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