SeaWorld Finally Succumbs—Eliminates Killer Whale Exhibition

After much controversy, SeaWorld is finally ending its current killer whale exhibition and introducing a new, more natural experience in 2017.

Sea World Orca

After extreme backlash and controversy surrounding its allegedly inhumane treatment of orcas, SeaWorld may be finally attempting to turn the tides in its favor.

Following the release of the troubling documentary Blackfish in 2013, which chronicled years of SeaWorld’s mistreatment of its killer whales, the company encountered a declining amount of visitors to its parks (particularly in San Diego), along with widespread distaste and distrust emanating from the public.

To counteract the public criticism, SeaWorld initially announced last year that it would spend $100 million to build a larger environment for its killer whales; however, this has not gone as smoothly as expected, and SeaWorld is now taking a different, seemingly more radical approach.

The park claims that it will be ending its current killer whale exhibition in its San Diego branch. A new show will emerge in 2017, focusing on “experiences that are more natural,” along with significance given to a “conservation message inspiring people to act,” according to SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby.

This sounds all well and good when put in vague platitudes such as those Manby states, but the specifics of the orcas’ conditions are really what matters. Unfortunately, that may not be substantially changing. According to Slate, the whales will still perform in the tanks, and the prominence given to conservation may be nothing more than SeaWorld’s employees promoting animal-related causes.

In addition, the changes to the exhibition are only occurring in the San Diego park—Texas and Florida will most likely remain the same, which is quite unfortunate for the killer whales that reside there.

What SeaWorld needs is a complete revitalization of its methods, rather than small adjustments intended only to placate the public. Until then, let the backlash continue.  

Banner Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Yathin S. Krishnappa

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