SeaWorld plans to phase out its controversial killer whale show at its San Diego location starting next year. Reportedly, a new orca experience will debut in San Diego in 2017 to replace the “Shamu” show.
The company, which operates 11 theme parks, instead will focus on conservation said Joel Manby, chief executive of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.The company will work with public schools to educate 50 million students on conservation in the next five years. Manby didn’t mention the end of the shows at the company’s other locations in Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas.
SeaWorld has been criticized since the release of the 2013 documentary, Blackfish which highlighted the living conditions of whales in captivity. The documentary linked these conditions to the whales who lashed out against their trainers and tried to blame conditions on the three deaths caused by captive killer whales. The documentary caused public outcry with many protesting against SeaWorld using whales for entertainment.
The decision comes amid efforts at both the state and federal levels to ban live performances and captive breeding of killer whales in the state. In October, a $100 million expansion for the killer whale cages from the California Costal Commission was approved, but future breeding of the animals was banned.