In a plot twist that would make “Gone Girl” seem like a nursery rhyme, Sea World has gone from hero, to villain, and back to hero. SeaWorld has agreed to stop killer whale breeding in all of its parks. The 28 orcas that remain in captivity will be the last to spend their life in the tanks of Sea World. This is in large part due to the recent tarnished history and public outcry to remove the whales from captivity. Sea World no longer takes orcas from the wild, so this will be the end of iconic “Shamu” show legacy.
The surprising announcement came in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States. Sea World will begin the phase out of the shows that focused on these larger than life performers doing tricks, and instead will focus on the rehabilitation and rescue or marine animals in the future. $50 million dollars will be spent on this new program over the next 5 years. The phasing out of the Shamu shows will begin in San Diego in 2017, progress to San Antonio and conclude in Orlando in 2019.
Moral Victory of Epic Proportions
Appetite For Peace staff will not get into the politics of Blackfish, but needless to say the awareness brought on by the 2103 film rattled the foundation of Sea World forever. In case you missed it, Blackfish told the tale of how the orcas were treated in captivity, compared life spans of wild killer whales to those in captivity, and told the unfortunate story of the six ton orca and star of the show names Tilikum. The #EmptyTheTanks movement was a success and Sea World was forced to adapt to the voice of the public and all time low ticket sales. Sea World has previously stated that orcas only live to be 30, meanwhile there are several known cases of orcas living to be over 100 in the wild.
Sea World deserves a lot of praise for making the right move this time. The theme park will now shift focus to bringing attention to the preservation of marine life. “SeaWorld takes seriously its responsibility to preserve marine wildlife. 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, “said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld.
Many of us grew up wanting to go to Sea World to see Shamu. Many of us have the fondest memories of pictures from marine theme park. This author was enamored with Shamu and had the goofy looking whale hat, like many children. However, most of us were naive to the big picture until recently. There is intense media scrutiny of animals in captivity recently, and rightfully so. First, it was the removal of elephants from the famous Ringling Brothers circus act, than the removal of the orcas from Sea World.
There is still mush more to be done, do not support or spend at the places that hold animals hostage. Visit sanctuaries instead. Without tickets sales, all things will become an option to these businesses that put profits first. So, let’s show them what our priority is, because the only thing worse than eating an animal is making it spend its entire life held hostage.