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SeaWorld’s orca shows to evolve in 2017

SeaWorld’s going to be revamping its orca whale show with a “greener message” in San Diego.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has been in the hot seat for a couple years, arguably since the documentary “Blackfish” came out in 2013 exposing the wrong doings of the theme park in terms of animal captivity–specifically the company’s care of killer whales. Ever since, the theme park has been boycotted and protested against–causing a drastic drop in visitors. In response to the immense negative publicity, SeaWorld has announced a change in its main attraction: the killer whale show, which will now feature more natural behaviours as opposed to tricks.

The company is going to phase out its famous “Shamu” killer whale show in San Diego in 2016, with the new, more natural show to begin in 2017, with a more “conservation-oriented” theme.

“We are listening to our guests,” said Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby. “We’re evolving as a company.”

However, the evolution toward more natural orca whale shows is, for now, limited to only SeaWorld’s San Diego park, and not its sister parks in Florida and Texas.

“The theatrical production of the show in that market is what they want to see less of,” Manby said of the San Diego customers. “But it’s not universal across our properties. […] They [San Diego customers] want the orca experience to be activities the whales do in the wild. Things they perceive as tricks, they don’t like as well.”

Although the move is a step forward, many believe it’s not enough. “This move is like no longer whipping lions in a circus act but keeping them locked inside cages for life,” says PETA’s Jared Goodman. “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.”

SeaWorld also announced a number of other changes, including plans for new hotels surrounding the parks in San Diego, San Antonio, and Orlando to attract overnight visitors, as well as a new attraction in Orlando that will allow guests to participate in a simulated animal rescue on jet skis. The company also plans to launch a new app that will allow guests to monitor wait times for rides, as well as have the option to pay to get to the front of the line.

The goal, Manby states, is to turn SeaWorld into a company that’s based on wild animal rescue and consumer education about oceans.

SeaWorld parks feature more than 800 species, 600 rides and attractions. “We’re not limited to any one animal, any one show, any one attraction,” says Manby. “We have a lot of options moving forward.”

About Alyssa Knoop

Alyssa is a Communications student from Edmonton, Alberta. Her biggest passions are reading, writing, music, and oxford commas.