SAN DIEGO–SeaWorld is making new changes to its theme parks. The zoological organization has announced Thursday that it will end its breeding program of the orca killer whales.
Marine park officials also will cease its controversial theatrical performances of the killer whales with their trainers.
SeaWorld has formed a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to focus on preserving and protecting wild animals and the places they live.
San Diego Humane Society commended SeaWorld for ending their orca breeding program, entertainment shows and re-focusing on rescuing and rehabilitation of marine mammals in distress and additional conservation efforts.
“Our goal at San Diego Humane Society is to inspire compassion and end animal suffering, so today’s announcement regarding the end to orca breeding by SeaWorld is a game changer worthy of praise and celebration,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO for San Diego Humane Society. “We have always been proud of the conservation and rescue work SeaWorld conducts here in San Diego but the orca controversy has overshadowed those important efforts in our region. We congratulate The Humane Society of the United States and SeaWorld in arriving at this incredible agreement which will help set the tone for the humane treatment of animals worldwide.”
The killer whales at San Diego SeaWorld will remain at the marine park.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization, have been critical of SeaWorld’s treatment of the orcas. The group has led numerous rallies demanding the marine park release the orcas back into the ocean.
The organization released a statement on SeaWorld’s decision to end the breeding of the orcas:
PETA has campaigned hard and today there is a payoff for future generations of orcas. For decades orcas, dolphins, beluga whales, seals and many other animals have suffered in SeaWorld confinement, and to do right by them now, SeaWorld must open the tanks to ocean sanctuaries so that these long-suffering animals may have some semblance of a life outside their prison tanks. SeaWorld has taken a step forward but more must come. PETA urges kind people everywhere to keep campaigning strong.
The Humane Society of the United States and SeaWorld will work together as advocates and educators for the ocean and its animals.
Their mission will include:
- Fish and Marine Mammal Protection: SeaWorld and HSUS will actively partner in efforts against the commercial killing of whales, seals and other marine mammals as well as ending shark finning. These initiatives are in addition to the rescue, research and resources SeaWorld already commits to protecting and saving marine mammals in the wild.
- Healthy Oceans: SeaWorld and HSUS will actively partner on efforts to protect coral reefs and the marine species that inhabit them from the over-exploitation of wild-caught ornamental fish.
- Sustainable Seafood: All seafood served in the park will be sustainable and the company will carry other food offerings that reflect an awareness of animal welfare, such as crate-free pork, cage-free eggs and more vegetarian options.
SeaWorld and HSUS will continue to look for additional opportunities for strategic collaboration, to grow their efforts to advocate for ocean preservation and conservation and the humane treatment of animals.