NPR is reporting that SeaWorld will soon end it's practice of breeding killer whales in captivity, and instead shift focus to rescue operations.
SeaWorld’s treatment of its killer whales, or orcas, was put in the spotlight three years ago by Blackfish, a documentary that examined the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca named Tilikum. Since then, in a steady campaign on social media, critics have demanded SeaWorld end its orca breeding program.
In an agreement with the Humane Society of the United States, SeaWorld says it now will do so. In a news release, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said, “Today’s announcement signals that the era of captive display of orcas will end.”
SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby said in the same news release, “As one of the largest rescue organizations in the world, we will increase our focus on rescue operations — so that the thousands of stranded marine mammals like dolphins and sea lions that cannot be released back to the wild will have a place to go.”
In addition to ending the breeding programs, SeaWorld will end the live theatrical orca shows at its San Diego park in 2017, and the San Antonio and Orlando parks will end the shows by 2019.