As I’m sure you have heard by now, SeaWorld Orlando has announced that as of today they will be ending the breeding program for orcas in their care. The orcas in their care currently will serve as the last generation and ambassadors to their wild counterparts. With orcas receiving the best care possible, as they always have at SeaWorld, and with orca Takara pregnant at Sea World San Antonio, I Would expect to see orcas at SeaWorld parks for at least another 30 years.
In addition to this change, the company has also announced that they will be moving away from theatrical shows and to a more natural encounter featuring inspiring information and behaviors. This will be a phased progression at each of the 3 parks, starting with San Diego next year:
In 2018, San Antonio and finally in 2019 Orlando.
Also announced was a partnership with the Humane Society. The official statement from the park can be read below:
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that the killer whales – or orcas – currently in the company’s care will be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld. The company will end all orca breeding as of today.
SeaWorld also will introduce new, inspiring, natural orca encounters, rather than theatrical shows, as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health. This change will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.
SeaWorld also announced today a broad new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to protect our oceans and the animals that call them home. The company is committing to educating its more than 20 million annual visitors on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretative programs at the parks and expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals, and other marine creatures.
“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. “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 encounter 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,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS. “Today we turn a corner, working together to achieve solutions on a wide set of animal issues including sunsetting the use of orcas at existing facilities; maximizing SeaWorld’s focus on rescue, rehabilitation and advocacy for marine mammals in the wild; and sourcing food for animals and customers from humane and sustainable sources, including cage-free eggs and crate-free pork.”
“We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes,” said Manby. “The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals. 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.”
The current population of orcas at SeaWorld – including one orca, Takara, that became pregnant last year – will live out their lives at the company’s park habitats, where they will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science, and zoological best practices. Guests will be able to observe these orcas through the new educational encounters and in viewing areas within the existing habitats.
SeaWorld reaffirms its commitment not to collect marine mammals from the wild. It has not collected an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years, and the orcas at SeaWorld were either born there or have spent almost their entire lives in human care. These orcas could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats.
With these changes announced the park will have to find a new direction/ identity and I personally believe they have already started on that with the additional efforts of showing how they rescue and release animals. Also with a bigger focus on rides in the coming years SeaWorld Parks, with Joel Manby at the helm, will still continue to grow and change.
The questions that remain are what will come of other animals in captivity? With extremist organizations that shall not be named claiming a partial victory, obviously still not happy and probably never will be, what will they target next. Also what effect will the humane society partnership with SeaWorld have on the park. Despite their tear-jerking commercials they are not the best company to be partnered with in my opinion when you do your research.
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