Close to six months after SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said the entertainment company would stop breeding their killer whales, California Governor Jerry Brown made it official. On Tuesday he signed a measure ending the breeding of captive orcas. SeaWorld will no longer be allowed to breed the animals, and the company is tossing out plans to expand their San Diego killer whale habitat.
There are SeaWorld parks in San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando. Although the company ceased plucking orcas from the sea nearly 40 years ago, SeaWorld still owns 29 of the majestic creatures. Five were caught from the wild. The company says the animals they have currently will be the “last generation of killer whales at SeaWorld.”
In a statement, PETA vice president Tracy Reiman said, “Future generations of orcas will not endure the deprivation, stress, and frustration of being trapped in a tiny concrete tank.”
The entertainment company will keep the killer whales currently at their facilities “under the best veterinary care.” New “natural orca encounters” focusing on education, research, and conservation will replace theatrical programs. SeaWorld had considered plans for “Blue World,” a $100 million expansion to their San Diego killer whale habitat, but now said they won’t move forward with the project.
According to SeaWorld, “The killer whale research we conduct has direct benefit for science. The animals in our care allow researchers, biologists, and conservationists to better understand and conserve these remarkable animals in the wild.”
The company faced pressure after the documentary Blackfish and the deaths of three orcas during six months at San Antonio last year. Concern followed the revelation the company was still having Tilikum, the subject of Blackfish, continue performing in the midst of a life-threatening sickness. Activists and animal rights organizations criticized the way SeaWorld has treated captive orcas.