SeaWorld Announces Major Overhaul Of Its Treatment Of Orcas

SeaWorld, together with the Humane Society of the United States, have announced a landmark agreement Thursday drastically altering practices at its theme parks, which have come under increased scrutiny for their treatment of animals.

The company confirmed that it will end orca breeding. The animals currently in captivity at the parks will live out the remainder of their lives there.

SeaWorld is also expected to announce an end to theatrical shows at its parks in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Florida, instead focusing on educational programs as well as animal rescue and restoration work.

The agreement, which SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby and Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle are expected to announce Thursday, would fundamentally change SeaWorld’s business model.

“These two organizations have been long-time adversaries, but we’re excited now to see the company transforming its operations for the better on animal welfare,” Pacelle said in a statement. “Today’s announcement signals that the era of captive display of orcas will end and that SeaWorld will redouble its work around rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals in crisis and partner with us to tackle global threats to marine creatures.”

Manby said that SeaWorld would work with its staff and millions of visitors to create “an army of advocates to protect animals and wild places.”

Orcas, while often called “killer whales,” are actually a species of dolphin. They are powerful and intelligent mammals, and can live for up to 50 or even 100 years in the wild.

SeaWorld has been under growing pressure to change its business model in recent years. In 2010, an orca named Tilikum fatally injured a trainer at the company’s Orlando park while visitors looked on. That incident was explored in Death at SeaWorld, a 2012 book by Huffington Post blogger David Kirby that attributed the —> Read More