SeaWorld Announces Plan to Phase Out Killer Whale Show by 2017

'One Ocean' will be replaced by a show highlighting orcas' natural behaviors.

November 09, 2015, 6:35 PM

— -- SeaWorld has announced that it will be phasing out its current killer whale show in 2016 and replacing it with a new orca experience in its San Diego park.

In a presentation given to investors today, President and Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby announced the current show "One Ocean" will run through 2016 and will be replaced in 2017 by an experience that highlights orcas' natural behaviors.

The new show will include conservation messaging and tips on how to make a difference for orcas in the wild, SeaWorld said in a press release.

The new plan comes amid efforts at the state and federal level to put an end to SeaWorld's captive breeding. In October, the California Coastal Commission approved SeaWorld's $100 million expansion of killer whale tanks, called the Blue World Project, but prohibited further breeding of orcas.

Manby announced that SeaWorld will re-allocate a portion of the $100 million Blue World Project investment.

"The overwhelming majority of adults -- nearly 95 percent according to research we have seen -- tell us that they believe that visiting a zoo or aquarium can inspire conservation," Manby said. "We see a growing trend within our core guest demographic that a vacation can and should be more than just fantasy and entertainment. Guests want to know that they're making a difference for the world we share and our parks deliver on that promise."

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said in a statement today that SeaWorld's announcement doesn't end efforts to stop inhumane orca captivity, but that it's "a step in the right direction."

PHOTO: People watch through glass as a killer whale swims by in a display tank at SeaWorld in San Diego, Nov. 30, 2006.
People watch through glass as a killer whale swims by in a display tank at SeaWorld in San Diego, Nov. 30, 2006.
Chris Park/AP Photo

PETA said in a statement that an end to SeaWorld's "circus-style" shows is "inevitable and necessary," but the captivity of the animals is what denies them of "everything that is natural and important to them."

"This move is like no longer whipping lions in a circus act but keeping them locked inside cages for life or no longer beating dogs but never letting them out of crates," PETA said.

The decision will be limited to its San Diego park for now, Manby said.

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