This morning Joel Manby, SeaWorld CEO, dropped some big news about the future of orcas in their care.
The company has said that the orcas currently in their care will be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld.
As of today, the breeding program is officially over.
They’re also completely transforming their orca shows, giving guests a more natural experience with the whales. No more theatrical performances and no more show music – just the same natural behaviors orcas exhibit in the wild.
In the announcement, SeaWorld stated that shifting theatrical shows to naturalistic encounters is part of SeaWorld’s commitment to education, conservation and marine science. The company said SeaWorld San Diego will begin the new orca encounters next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.
As part of their conservation efforts, SeaWorld also announced a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to work together to protect fish and marine mammals, promote healthy oceans and support sustainable seafood practices.
“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. “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.”
And yes, ending the breeding program will mean the eventual end of all orcas at SeaWorld. But that doesn’t mean SeaWorld will be orca will just be sent out into the wild.
According to SeaWorld, the current population of orcas – including one orca, Takara, that became pregnant last year – will live out their lives at the company’s park habitats. The orcas will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science, and zoological best practices.
SeaWorld reaffirmed their commitment to continuing their work in marine life rescues and rehabilitation. Over the past 50 years, the company saved over 27,000 animals. This year, their San Diego facility has been busy with an unprecedented amount of sea lion strandings and rescues.
Without a doubt, SeaWorld has always put their money where their mouth is when it comes to wildlife protection and conservation.
“The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals, said Manby. “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.”
SeaWorld 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 because of environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats.
This announcement marks a new era for a phenomenal organization – SeaWorld will remain committed to marine animals’ wellbeing for generations to come.