19 Mar 2016

Seaworld is Going to Stop Breeding Orcas

Seaworld Entertainment, the chain of famous marine mammal parks, has announced that they will stop their Orca breeding program immediately. The shows with Orcas will be phased out gradually as there will be no new Killer Whales as replacements. The organization is compelled to take this decision due to the ever increasing pressure from the environment protection groups.

There are three marine parks named “Seaworld” under the company of the same name. These parks are in Orange County, Florida; San Diego, California; San Antonio, Texas of United States. There are Beluga Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions but the main attraction of these parks is the Orcas or Killer Whales.

Seaworld is famous for its “Shamu” shows. Shamu was the name of the first orca that was bought into the Seaworld San Diego from Seattle Marine Aquarium. The Killer Whale shows with its trainer become very popular in USA from the 1960s. After that, many orcas are bought and trained for such shows. All these shows are called “Shamu shows” to use the brand name.

An accident in 2010 and a film made after that brought much pressure upon Seaworld to stop its orca shows and release these whales immediately. After the completion of a successful show, Dawn Brancheau, an experienced female orca trainer was killed by an orca named Tilikum. That incident brought bad publicity upon Seaworld.

A film named Blackfish in 2012 directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite documented the life story of that killer whale Tilikum. It depicts the pathetic conditions of these sea mammals at captivity. The film gave much exposure to the wildlife activists and environmental protection groups demand to put an end of Shamu shows and release all that orcas.

According to Joel Manby, CEO of Seaworld, the killer whale shows will be gradually phased out from their marine parks. There is also a timeline to end these shows: San Diego in 2017, the San Antonio and Orlando parks by 2019. But still the orcas will live there for many years, as these are now incompatible with the natural environments of the oceans. They will not survive long out there.

For an image makeover, the company has planned to join hand with one of its most vehement critic organization “Humane Society of the United States”. There partnership will work to rescue distressed animals and combat shark-finning and commercial whale hunting.

There is a debate among people about the impact of the decision of Seaworld in their future business prospects. The orca shows have made the company famous and gave it revenue for decades. There is a concern that ending these shows will have negative financial impact.

But according to some the overall result will be positive. The awareness about animal life and welfare is growing day by day among the people. The negative publicity regarding its treatment of captive orcas is making Seaworld’s image darker day by day. There was ever increasing protests and law suits which will end the “Shamu” shows eventually with much more defame and loss. So, it is actually a smart move which will save the company in the future.

Number of Orcas Living in Seaworld Facilities

Seaworld San Diego (California): 11
Seaworld San Antonio (Texas): 5
Seaworld Orlando (Florida): 7

Seaworld at a Glance

Moto: “The Voyage Begins...”
Number of Theme Parks: 3 (California, Texas and Florida)
Average Visitors per annum: 11 million

Quick Facts about Orcas

Popular Names: Killer Whale, Orca, Blackfish, Grampus
Scientific Name: Ornicus Orca
Habitation: all five oceans of the world
Food: Fishes, Seals and Dolphins
Size: Up to 9 m (30ft) [Males] and females 8 m (26 ft)
Weight: about 6 tonnes
Color: Black and white
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)

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