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SeaWorld Changing Show

November 10th, 2015

Killer whale performing at SeaWorld. Photo credit: The Jacobin via Flickr/CC

You may have heard of or even been to SeaWorld, where killer whales (orcas), do amazing tricks for visitors like you and me.

Over the past number of years, animal rights groups have been putting pressure on SeaWorld to stop using orcas in these kinds of shows. Their view is that these are wild, intelligent (and huge!) animals that deserve to be in their natural habitat, not being forced to do tricks to make people money (millions of dollars actually, it’s big business!).

One film in particular, Blackfish , made waves (no pun intended) when it explored how the orcas were caught, how they’re trained, what they’re naturally like, what their needs are, and how dangerous (and sometimes deadly) it is to be an orca trainer.

SeaWorld has three locations: 1) San Diego, California, 2) San Antonio, Texas, and 3) Orlando, Florida. This week, SeaWorld in San Diego announced that it’s going to change the way it does its orca show. SeaWorld San Diego President, Joel Manby, said,  “It’s going to be focused more on the natural setting, natural environment and also the natural behaviors of the whales.”

He didn’t give details about what those changes will be but he did say the company is evolving. This is because we now know a lot more about how incredibly smart and social orcas are, and more about what their needs are.

Many people are welcoming the change. But many others believe they’re not going nearly far enough.

Blackfish’s director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, said she’s “cautiously optimistic” but a bit wary. “They may simply be repackaging it so that orcas will perform more natural-looking tricks in new choreographed acts. I hope I’m wrong and that this is not simply a slick rebranding,” she told the San Diego Tribune newspaper .

Some think the shows with orcas should be stopped altogether, that there’s no circumstance at SeaWorld that can provide the orcas what they really need and deserve — to be free.

The changes will take place in 2017.

What do you think? Does this change make it more okay?

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