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SeaWorld To End Killer Whale Shows

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The Shamu show at SeaWorld (Photo by Josh Hallet via the Creative Commons)
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SeaWorld's San Diego park will soon be ending their killer whale shows as part of an effort to rehabilitate their public image.The decision was revealed on Monday in a document posted online, ahead of a webcast where SeaWorld Entertainment executives would outline the future of the company and their 11 parks. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the shows would be replaced in 2017 with an experience that would be "informative" and with a "conservation message inspiring people to act."

Last month the San Diego park's plans for the "Blue World Project"—which would double the living space of the park's 11 resident orcas—were approved by the Coastal Commission on the condition that the park stop captive breeding the animals. The ending of captive breeding would all but end the shows at the San Diego park, and SeaWorld vowed to fight the ban.

According to today's announcement, $100 million of that expansion would now be going towards the new attraction. The SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio were not a part of today's announcement.

The recent wave of the public's anti-SeaWorld sentiment has mostly stemmed from the documentary Blackfish, which is critical of the park keeping the whales in captivity. Park attendance has dropped since its premiere. On Friday, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) announced he would introduce a federal bill that would end the import, export, and breeding of the animals for public display.

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Update: PETA's Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman has issued the following statement in response to the news:

An end to SeaWorld's tawdry circus-style shows is inevitable and necessary, but it's captivity that denies these far-ranging orcas everything that is natural and important to them. This move is like no longer whipping lions in a circus act but keeping them locked inside cages for life or no longer beating dogs but never letting them out of crates. As U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff indicated when he introduced the federal orca-protection bill, no change to SeaWorld's tanks will be sufficient to satisfy the needs of these animals. That's why PETA is calling on SeaWorld to stop breeding orcas and start building sea sanctuaries where they can experience an actual natural setting and finally thrive.