SeaWorld Will End Orca Breeding Program and Shows

As children, many of us marveled when the orcas, also known as killer whales, would splash the audience during a show at SeaWorld. Seeing their giant bodies leap out of the pool on command made our jaws drop. SeaWorld was this amazing company that loved the whales and treated them with love and respect, right?

Thank goodness we didn’t stay that naïve. A 2013 documentary called Blackfish captivated the world’s attention by shedding light on the barbaric practices of SeaWorld, all in the name of increasing profit. Blackfish argued that “placing the whales in captivity made them violent, neurotic, and decreased their life span,” according to NBC News.

The endless days of protesting and spreading the word on how SeaWorld managed their orcas has finally paid off. Instead of condemning Blackfish and protestors as they originally had done, SeaWorld is finally making changes to keep up with the changing views of their theme park.

This past Thursday, SeaWorld announced that they would end their orca breeding program. The orcas currently at parks in California, Texas and Florida will be the last generation. There are over 20 orcas at the parks that range in age from 1 to 51 years old, so they will still be in the parks decades from now. These orcas will no longer be a part of the theatrical shows by 2019, according to BuzzFeed News. Instead, they will be a part of a new natural orca encounter that is currently in the works. This new encounter comes along with a $100 million habitat expansion approved by the California Coastal Commission.

"Society's attitude toward these very, very large, majestic animals under human care has shifted for a variety of reasons, whether it's a film, legislation, people's comments on the Internet. It wasn't worth fighting that. We needed to move where society was moving,” SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby told the Associated Press

This monumental decision was accompanied with the announcement that SeaWorld will be partnering with the Humane Society of the United States of America. This partnership could lead SeaWorld towards a brand new start. This is a huge victory not only just for the orcas in captivity, but all the animals housed at SeaWorld parks across the nation. 

All of these changes prompt a bigger question: Does any animal belong in human captivity? Let us know what you think.