San Diego Humane Society praises SeaWorld decision for orcas
John T. Reilly, SeaWorld San Diego President
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Friday - The San Diego Humane Society is congratulating SeaWorld for their landmark decision to end orca breeding and captivity at their theme parks.
According to Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, the plan to phase out the orca breeding program had been planned behind closed doors for months now.
The president of the San Diego Humane Society, Dr. Gary Weitzman said this decision is a huge victory for all parties.
But the decision is receiving mixed reactions from the local animal rights activists.
Thursday - SeaWorld will no longer breed orcas in San Diego or elsewhere in the United States, the entertainment company announced Thursday. They will also be phasing out shows that use orcas, such as the Shamu Show.
“As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it,” Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. said.
Just three months ago, SeaWorld San Diego park officials filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission after a ruling that would end breeding of captive orcas in San Diego. Earlier, SeaWorld San Diego had agreed not to increase orca population at their park by means other than occasional captive births and authorized rescues.
But now SeaWorld will end its breeding practices altogether.
SeaWorld’s attendance has suffered since the release of the documentary Blackfish and has consistently been the target of animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
But the park hopes that it can continue to educate guests on killer whales through natural orca encounters starting next year in San Diego.
“By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and re-imagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter,” Manby said.
SeaWorld has also teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States in their education efforts. New programs will provide guests with education about animal welfare and conservation issues and how to protect whales, seals and other marine creatures in the wild.
The president of SeaWorld San Diego, John Reilly, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assemblyman Richard Bloom will discuss the announcement at 1:15 p.m. Thursday.