SeaWorld’s Last Generation of Orcas


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SeaWorld is heavily emphasizing conservation amid controversy over its killer whales, and it is not alone. Some aquariums around North America have begun scaling back marine mammal programs – including shows and breeding – amid controversy over keeping these animals captive. (George Skene/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

Emily McFarland, Staff Writer

On Thursday, March 17th, SeaWorld publically announced that it will discontinue its killer whale breeding programs and begin to taking a “new direction” amongst quickly altering social attitudes.

Around three years ago, the film Blackfish was released. The documentary highlighted SeaWorld’s treatment of killer whales. Ever since the film gained popularity, animal welfare groups and an abundance of critics have been calling for an end to the park’s breeding program. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of Blackfish, commented on the announcement as a, “defining moment. The fact that SeaWorld is doing away with orca breeding marks truly meaningful change.”

Joel Manby, SeaWorld President and CEO, additionally announced that, “As one of the largest rescue organizations in the world, we will increase our focus on rescue operations — so that the thousands of stranded marine mammals like dolphins and sea lions that cannot be released back to the wild will have a place to go.” The park has reached an agreement with the United States Humane Society in order to pacify public criticism of the program, and thus solve an issue that has stalled the expansion of the company’s San Diego park, as in 2015, SeaWorld announced the phasing out of theatrical orca shows.

SeaWorld’s announcement marks a winning move for both animal welfare groups and Seaworld critics alike.