This. Is. Huge.
Since the release of Blackfish in 2013, SeaWorld has been under immense pressure from concerned consumers and animal rights activists to retire its orca breeding program and release the mammals back into the wild.
In November, the marine park establishment took a step forward when it announced that SeaWorld in San Diego, California, will ‘phase out’ the use of killer whales by 2017. While the move was celebrated, it still wasn’t perceived to be enough by the general public.
Which is why today, March 17th, 2016, SeaWorld announced that it will end its killer whale breeding program and phase out ALL circus acts for the giant ocean mammals. The last generation of orcas will still be accessible to the public, but only in natural encounters.
BBC News reports that the park has agreed not to collect any more marine mammals from the wild and has entered a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The “last generation” of orcas will not be returned to the wild (as they “would likely die,” according to the company), but will live in improved environments.
Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of HSUS, said in a statement that his group would work with the park on a wide range of animal protection issues following the establishment’s “game-changing commitment” to end captive orca breeding.
By 2019, SeaWorld parks are to be completely revamped.
The marine park states:
“Everything will reflect the natural world and will focus on the research, education, care and respect that align with our mission to advance the well-being and conservation of these beautiful creatures.”
By 2019, all parks in Florida, Texas, and California will phase out their orca breeding program and killer whale shows.
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