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SeaWorld Just Announced It's Going To Stop Breeding Killer Whales

SeaWorld announced it will no longer breed killer whales, making its current generation of the mammals the park's last.

The move was announced on the company's website and explained more thoroughly in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times written by SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby.

Last November, Manby declared killer whale shows would be phased out of its San Diego park by 2017 and replaced by attractions geared toward conservation.

The 2013 documentary "Blackfish" reportedly triggered a decline in revenue for SeaWorld, and the majority of the public seems to vehemently object to orca captivity in general.

In its announcement, SeaWorld said,

Why the big news? SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing. Society is changing and we're changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guest[s] to take action to protect wild animals and wild places.

Legislation was proposed to make capturing orcas illegal, and the California Coastal Commission began an effort to ban orca breeding at SeaWorld last year, Manby noted in the op-ed.

He also discussed why it will not be possible for its current killer whales to be released into the ocean.

He wrote,

Most of our orcas were born at SeaWorld, and those that were born in the wild have been in our parks for the majority of their lives. 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.

Releasing the animals would put them at risk for exposure to disease, man-made environmental obstructions and starvation due to an inability to compete for food. The company's killer whales will, therefore, continue to be cared for until they die at SeaWorld, which said it had not captured an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years.

Instead of pure entertainment, the orcas will be involved in "natural presentations that are fun, exiting and will educate guests about the plight of orcas in the wild," SeaWorld said.

Protecting marine wildlife from pollution and hunting alongside the Humane Society of the United States will be the company's new primary focus, according to Manby.

Rescue operations will be increased for marine mammals such as dolphins and sea lions, and the two companies will work together to stop shark finning as well.

Citations: SeaWorld says current generation of killer whales at parks will be its last (CNN), Were ending our orca breeding program Here's why (Los Angeles Times)