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Hope for killer whales? SeaWorld changes orca shows

There may be good news for killer whales kept in captivity at SeaWorld and other theme parks. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby announced on November 9, 2015 that the orca shows in their current form would last in 2016.


Killer whales in captivity have long shocked animal rights activists - Shutterstock / nodff

Killer whales in captivity have long shocked animal rights activists – Shutterstock / nodff

So is there hope for killer whales and animal rights activists? SeaWorld does not want to do without its orca shows entirely, and the question of keeping orcas in a species-appropriate manner also appears unresolved by the new plans.

Documentary draws attention to orca suffering

The orca attitude at SeaWorld and other theme parks has long been criticized by animal rights activists. But the 2013 documentary Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, brought the plight of killer whales in captivity to the attention of a wider audience. As “The Dodo” reports, for example, SeaWorld has been struggling with declining viewership and income since then. However, the amusement park itself emphasizes on its website that we love animals and are proud to support them.

Watch the trailer for the documentary “Blackfish” here

SeaWorld responds to criticism

In response to declining viewership and ongoing criticism of orca attitudes, SeaWorld has decided to change the concept for the orca shows. The park’s website states: “We listen to our guests. As a company, we are evolving and changing. This means that 2016 will be the last year that we will continue our show experience with killer whales called ‘One Ocean ‘ present.” There should be a new show concept in 2017, at least at SeaWorld San Diego.

The orca, also known as the killer whale, is the largest species of dolphin - Image: Shutterstock / Karina Wallton
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07/07/2015 – 11:58 am

Killer Whales: Mighty beasts of the sea

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New orca shows to protect killer whales

SeaWorld Director Joel Manby announces the new concept is a completely innovative orca experience. Above all, they want to focus on a more lifelike environment, more natural environment and on the innate behavior of sea creatures. At the same time, the goal is to inform viewers about the conservation of killer whales and to give them tips to take home with them on how they can help orcas themselves.

However, the statement does not say exactly what this means for the orcas in captivity. According to “The Dodo”, animal rights activists therefore criticize that it is less a matter of making the attitude of killer whales more species-appropriate than of making the orca shows palatable to the viewers again.

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