California ocean wildlife park SeaWorld intends to phase out its killer whale show next year, ending Shamu’s long reign over the park. The show will be replaced by a new orca experience that will not include tricks and will instead support education about whales in a more natural setting than a water tank. It is not certain if the orca shows will end at the two other parks in San Antonio and Orlando.
Plans to end the show and replace it with something better is the product of both state and federal squeezes on the sea park to end the captive breeding of orcas, reports the San Diego Tribune. The 2013 documentary Blackfish, which investigated the 2010 death of a SeaWorld trainer who was drown by a show orca, has also darkened SeaWorld’s public image. Though the park stated that the film was inaccurate and misleading, the documentary’s effects are lasting. Trainers have not been allowed into the water with the whales since the accident.
A new attraction coming to the San Diego park is intended to create more revenue and boost park attendance. The $100 million for a Blue World project, a proposal that would improve the orcas’ living spaces, will be reallocated to the rumored new attraction in 2017.
California’s Coastal Commission voted unanimously to ban captive orca breeding at SeaWorld parks while permitting expansion of orca habitats. Additionally, California Representative Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, intends to introduce more federal legislation regarding the breeding of orcas.
“The decision by SeaWorld to phase out killer whale shows in San Diego is a welcome step along the path towards ending the captivity of these magnificent creatures,” Schiff said, acknowledging that more needs to be done to help, adding, “as long as SeaWorld holds orcas in captivity, the physical and psychological problems associated with their captivity will persist.”
It remains to be seen what the “new attraction” will be, but hopefully it will be better for the animals who live there.