SeaWorld President Joel Manby announced on Thursday that the company will no longer be breeding killer whales for its theme park use. This enormous reform is directly following SeaWorld's November decision to replace its "Shamu" killer whale shows in San Diego with presentations that focus on the conservation of the species.
Many have attributed the cause for this reform as being the hyperawareness caused by the 2013 documentary film "Blackfish" which revealed many of the horrors behind SeaWorld's practices. The documentary showed the training methods of SeaWorld when it came to training the orcas for shows, and how they were kept in unrealistically small enclosures when not performing. Orcas are extremely intelligent creatures, and keeping them locked into small tanks with no stimulation had detrimental effects such as depression and rage within the whales, according to the documentary.
This, combined with the fact that the company lost three orcas over the course of a six-month span in 2015, created a pressure to change the company's practices that could no longer be ignored. Finally, animal rights activists are starting to see results.
According to president Manby, the park will now use birth control so as to stop the further reproduction among the company's orca population. There are currently 29 killer whales in SeaWorld's custody, five of which were captured in the wild, although SeaWorld has not captured any new orcas from their natural habitats in 40 years.
There are still many activists who are calling upon SeaWorld to release all of their orcas into costal sanctuaries; SeaWorld is still adamantly claiming that doing so may put the animals in danger-- animals nurtured in captivity usually don't survive in the wild, since they have no knowledge of how to hunt for food or defend themselves against predators.
As part of its reform, SeaWorld has also announced a partnership with the United States Humane Society, donating $50 million to help the association end commercial whaling practices and the targeting of sharks for their fins. The funds are set to disseminate over the next five years.
Yet the question remains-- what will happen once all 29 of the orcas in SeaWorld's care eventually pass away? As their number of killer whales depletes, how the company will compensate remains unknown.