A New Day for SeaWorld: Orca Breeding Program Ends

SeaWorld announced that it is phasing out current killer whale theatrical shows and replacing with new, inspiring, natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health and will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.

Artist Rendering
2016 ©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

As an advocate for wildlife conservation and, yes – a passionate advocate for SeaWorld – March 17, 2016 is a big day, and I encourage everyone to truly do their due diligence in reinvestigating how they feel about SeaWorld today.

Here’s what’s happening right now at SeaWorld:

SeaWorld’s orca breeding program officially ends today.  There is one whale, Takara, who’s been pregnant since last year – so, prepare yourselves for the last orca calf birth within SeaWorld’s parks.

Theatrical shows are done. Which is making way for new natural habitat encounters that are being created (but, keep in mind, these take time and don’t happen overnight — you’ll see them first in California later this year, then San Diego, and last in Orlando – in 2019) and these will focus on orca enrichment, exercise and overall health.

SeaWorld partners with Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to further support the changes announced today.

 

Two years ago, I decided very deliberately to share my stance on SeaWorld with everyone.  I was tired of “living in fear” that someone would have a differing opinion – a lot of people on the internet do, and they let me know it every time I step into the park.  I understand why many have trouble supporting SeaWorld.  I’ve also done my own extensive research to know why I personally choose to stand with SeaWorld, and I can only ask that you respect my opinion as much as I try to respect yours.

The killer whales that are currently in their care, and have been for many years, have mostly all been BORN within the parks — there is NO WAY that any of them could survive in the wild. None. Zilch. Not up for discussion.  “Saving the whales” by “freeing” them into the ocean…is likely certain death for them.  I’m not willing to risk their lives to see if these whales born in captivity can even begin to figure out the wild.  I’m not up for debating this here or now with anyone – we’ve been there/done that.

However, it is my total and complete belief that WITHOUT SEAWORLD? We – and the very existence of these animals (from killer whale to manatee to sea turtle) – would have been entirely worse off. Likely, without SeaWorld, the Florida Manatee would’ve been wiped off the planet years ago…that’s just for starters.

And I find it extremely difficult to believe that everyone who’s been calling for their heads was or would’ve been the “activist” that they are for the killer whale without – ironically – SeaWorld themselves.

Because, let’s be real here for a second — no one gave a flying flippity thought about the killer whales (and, in fact, actually FEARED the animal) until SeaWorld stepped in and gave us Shamu. Had SeaWorld NOT put the killer whale infront of us and began educating us about the species people would likely continue to fear this “killer” and never even know what they are – let alone CARE about them. They’d care as much, if not less, about the KILLER whale as they do the blue whale or the beluga whale or the sperm whale….or sharks…or sea turtles…or manatees.

Think what you want of SeaWorld after watching one piece of propaganda that was set out with the intention of destroying every single thing this company does, both good and bad. Admittedly, I agree, many of these changes were necessary and I’m happy to see them come to fruition.  That being said, I do not believe that the total destruction of the predominant resource that helps to rescue/rehab and conserve these animals all over the world was – or is – warranted. Keep in mind, SeaWorld is not only accredited through various high level organizations globally – they’re also regulated by federal & state agencies too.  SeaWorld is not the only authority involved in these animal’s care, rehab, and conservation.

Having SeaWorld in my backyard here in Orlando, growing up supporting them, and WITNESSING THEM being the first on many calls throughout the year to help save just about any animal that needs them – has me solidly on Team SeaWorld. They are, after all, the very reason I became fascinated with these animals back in the 80s as a kid from New Jersey who never knew much more than what a garden snake or a duck in the pond at the park looked like outside of what was in books.  Now, some 30-odd years later, my friends will tell you that I’m a fierce lover of all animals, but in particular those of the marine sort.  Why?  SeaWorld.

My hope now, after today especially, is that more people begin to reconsider their stance on SeaWorld, that you at least take another hardcore look and are open to the changes that are happening — because without SeaWorld and without our support in SeaWorld and all the GOOD that they do provide? You could bet your bottom dollar that a lot of these animals cease to exist.

SeaWorld needs money and resources to make things happen – from their rescue and rehab programs, to the new changes they’re working to put in place, and the continuation in the level of care that these animals ARE in fact receiveing. Which is likely better than you & I receive any time we go to the doctor…they need us, as much as we need them.

Editor’s Note: Central Florida Top 5 encourages everyone to visit SeaWorldCares.com/Future to learn more about Sea World’s current efforts and plans for the future. 

SeaWorld announced that it is phasing out current killer whale theatrical shows and replacing with new, inspiring, natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health and will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019. Artist Rendering 2016 ©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld announced that it is phasing out current killer whale theatrical shows and replacing with new, inspiring, natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health and will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019. Artist Rendering

2016 ©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment