Success! SeaWorld is Going to Stop Breeding Orcas

In a surprising move that has animal advocates celebrating, this week SeaWorld officially announced that it is going to end its breeding program for orcas. The current orcas in SeaWorld will be the last generation in captivity.

The announcement, which was made in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), marks the end of an era and a growing shift in our views on captive cetaceans and other wild animals.

More and more people are asking questions about whether keeping orcas in captivity and using them as performers is justifiable, given what we know for certain about how intelligent, far-ranging and deeply social they are. Thousands of Care2 members have signed petitions asking SeaWorld to stop keeping orcas captive.

While opposition to keeping orcas in captivity was around well before the documentary Blackfish started making waves, the film unquestionably helped bring the issue to a much wider audience.

The film has also had an undeniable impact, with ensuing boycotts, protests, lawsuits, letters from angry children, celebrity shaming, dwindling attendance, dropping stock prices and a scandal surrounding sending sending a spy to infiltrate PETA.

Lawmakers came forward to introduce state and federal legislation that would result in bans, the California Coastal Commission conditioned SeaWorld’s proposed expansion on ending breeding last year and thousands upon thousands of people wrote letters and signed petitions calling for some serious change. It looks like SeaWorld has finally accepted the writing on the wall.

“As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter,” Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s President and CEO, said in a statement.

While the orcas currently in its care will likely be around for years, breeding will end immediately and no more will suffer their fate in the future.

SeaWorld will also not transfer any orcas to or from parks abroad and announced that it will be ending its theatrical shows. Instead it will be creating more natural environments that will benefit its current residents by focusing more on exercise and enrichment, which is expected first in San Diego and will extend to San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.

It also pledged $50 million over the next five years to grow its rescue program and promote marine conservation. It will be partnering with the HSUS on efforts to end shark finning and the commercial killing of whales, seals and other marine mammals, in addition to protecting marine environments.

So far, the move is being applauded by many organizations that have been working toward ending captivity, including Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and AWI. The groups will still be working to bring about similar changes for dolphins, belugas and other marine mammals and will still also be pushing for retirement in sea pens, even though SeaWorld stated that’s not something it’s considering.

“This is a first, massive step forward toward a more humane future for SeaWorld,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “I welcome these commitments from Joel Manby. He has given SeaWorld a new lease on life.”

Photo credit: SeeBeeW

227 comments

william Miller
william Miller1 years ago

thanks

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Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder2 years ago

ty

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Miss D.
Shari F2 years ago

Hi! Sorry, here's the rest of that post. There's no petition but there is an email address you can write to Miami Seaquarium and politely but firmly make your views known:
If she can’t be fully reintegrated back with her family then she will be kept in a sea pen in her natal waters, with her family nearby. If you think that this would be a good outcome for Lolita, you can write to express your views to Miami Seaquarium at: http://www.miamiseaquarium.com/hours-and-directions/contact-us

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Neville B.
Neville B2 years ago

Dear Miss D., thank you for that very informative post - so sad Care2's let it be cut off! : ( Was there a petition (or string of them) with it? If not, perhaps you could post or create one, please?

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Miss D.
Shari F2 years ago

Hello all. I agree with everyone who has stated that this is not good enough until all the orcas are let out of their tanks and placed in a sea-pen or rehabilitated, as far as possible, into the wild. Concerning Lolita, she is at Miami Seaquarium which is owned by Palace Entertainments, not SeaWorld. Miami Seaquarium used to be owned by SW until 2014 when it was sold to PE. Lolita is an excellent candidate for release back to the wild. She was wild caught, not bred in captivity. Her family, including her mother and other whales who were present at the time of her violent and traumatic capture, are still alive. As has been mentioned on this thread, Lolita still calls out to her family using the ‘dialect’ that is unique to her pod. She responded positively when calls from her family were played to her 30 years after her capture. Her family are one of the most intensively studied groups of orca in the world (the Southern Residents) and they live in a protected area that is currently under consideration for having that protection extended. Conservationists and scientists have formulated a very robust release plan for her, covering everything from transportation from Miami to Washington, being trained to hunt and eat salmon again, get fit and dive deeper and longer etc. If she needs it, they will also provide medical care for the rest of her life. If she can’t be fully reintegrated back with her family then she will be kept in

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Ana R
ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

First clever step for SeaWhatever but there is long road for celebration. 130,877 Thank you to all signers. 2016 is time for final change of definition "Family entertaiment" and it needs to be done worldwide! Please keep up the dedicated work...

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Svetlana B.
Svetlana B2 years ago

Svetlana, you took action on November 10, 2015. Good news! Yes! Tillikum we love you! Never give up!

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Nena C.
Nena C2 years ago

Cudos to all signers way to go!! Now more to do

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Trish K.
Trish K2 years ago

Thank you Care2 Petition writers & Signers - We Rock

- I believe that we can change the world one click at a time

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