SeaWorld has confirmed it will phase out its killer whale breeding and captivity program.
The 29 orcas currently homed in some of the attraction’s 12 American parks will be the ‘last generation’, the company said.
SeaWorld’s long-controversial breeding program was the subject of a hard-hitting documentary, Blackfish, in 2013.
‘For as long as they live, the orcas at SeaWorld will stay in our parks,’ writes Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s CEO, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
‘We are proud of contributing to the evolving understanding of one of the world’s largest marine mammals,’ he adds. ‘Now we need to respond to the attitudinal change that we helped to create — which is why SeaWorld is announcing several historic changes.
‘This year we will end all orca breeding programs — and because SeaWorld hasn’t collected an orca from the wild in almost four decades, this will be the last generation of orcas in SeaWorld’s care. We are also phasing out our theatrical orca whale shows.’
Explaining that it would be ‘unwise’ to release the orcas currently under captivity into the wild, Manby said: ‘If we release them into the ocean, they will likely die.
‘In fact, no orca or dolphin born under human care has ever survived release into the wild. Even the attempt to return the whale from “Free Willy,” Keiko, who was born in the wild, was a failure.’