Photo via SeaWorld Orlando
It's the end of an era for SeaWorld.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
announced Thursday, March 17, that it will no longer breed orcas.
"SeaWorld's commitment to end breeding of orcas is a long-held goal of many animal advocacy organizations," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Human Society of the United States in a press release.
Pacelle says SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to advocate for an end to the commercial killing of whales and seals and an end to shark finning.
Because SeaWorld has not collected an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years, the whales that are currently at the park were either born there or have spent almost their entire lives in human care. The remaining orcas will live out their lives at the company's park habitats.
Rather than using orcas for theatrical shows, the park will introduce natural orca encounters as part of SeaWorld's commitment to education, marine science research and rescue of marine animals, according to the release. Such programs, which will focus on orca enrichment, exercise and health, will start at SeaWorld San Diego next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.
"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," says Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. in the release. "As society's understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it."