If you don’t think public backlash against an organization can cause change, think again.
SeaWorld announced that it is ending its orca whale shows next year on the heels of California’s decision to ban the captive breeding of killer whales.
This is an incredibly welcome change. As you may already know, SeaWorld was heavily criticized after the release of “Blackfish,” a documentary about SeaWorld and the incredibly dark-side of keeping captive orcas. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, SeaWorld of Hurt reports that the film “centers on a captive orca named Tilikum. He was torn away from his family and ocean home when he was 2 years old, and out of frustration caused by nearly 20 years of intense confinement, isolation, and lack of emotional and intellectual stimulation, he has killed three humans.”
In addition to ending its ocra shows (and in response to California’s breeding ban), SeaWorld San Diego plans to go ahead with a $100 million expansion to its killer whale tanks.
While we are thrilled that these shows are ending, we have to acknowledge that there are some bad and “eh” bits of news mixed up in this announcement, too.
The only SeaWorld that’s halting its orca show is SeaWorld San Diego. Also: captive orca breeding is still allowed in other states. And although the orca show is coming to an end in San Diego, the park will still hold captive orcas.
IFL Science reports that SeaWorld San Diego plans to add an “educational experience” that involves the killer whales. The exhibit is supposed to be in a more true-to-life setting and SeaWorld “claims that the intention is to inform and inspire, not treat the intelligent mammals as circus animals.”
We’ll see about that… There are plenty of lawmakers and activists who are underwhelmed with the change and are doubtful it will do much good.
“This is incremental. It’s never going to get them to the end goal of truly improving the situation for the orcas there,” Naomi Rose, a marine scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, says.
We’ve got to agree with Rose. This seems more like a PR move than a real move that could improve the situation of orcas. We hope we’re wrong.
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Image of orca from Shutterstock