Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment announced on Thursday that it will end its long-running orca breeding program.
As many as 30 whales have been bred in captivity in Seaworld’s theme parks in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego since the program began in 1985. Whales already living at the park will remain their for life, the company said.
The announcement comes after nearly three years of pressure on theme park operator following public outcry over “BlackFish,” a documentary about orcas in captivity.
Earlier this month the park said the subject of that documentary, Tilikum, is suffering from what veterinarians believe is an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection in his lungs.
'Blackfish' director applauds SeaWorld's decision to stop breeding orcas, making them perform tricks: https://t.co/4V6QsBTFDs
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 17, 2016
The advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded their decision on the Twitter account. SeaWorld said it will work with another long-time critic, the Humane Society of the United States, to create new programs that advocate for orcas.
The company’s San Diego park is ending its orca shows following a decision by California regulators to ban captive orca breeding in the state. Both Orlando and San Antonio will end their orca shows by 2019.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 17, 2016
— The Humane Society of the United States (@HumaneSociety) March 17, 2016
— PETA (@peta) March 17, 2016
(Image Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment)