The California Coastal Commission has just announced their decision to ban orca breeding at the San Diego SeaWorld location.
The California Coastal Commission decided last week that SeaWorld in San Diego would be allowed to move forward with its plan to construct giant tanks for its orca exhibit, on the condition that it prevents its killer whales from breeding in captivity. According to a report from the San Diego Union Tribune, SeaWorld has faced harsh criticism lately for its treatment of captive orcas, and the regulatory agency is taking serious measures to address these concerns.
SeaWorld has been facing mounting challenges posed by activists who seek to expose some of the things that go on behind the scenes. This negative publicity has affected SeaWorld’s attendance and ticket sales, and the company will have to adequately address these concerns before they keep losing more business.
SeaWorld has lagged in comparison to other theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios for years. Its publicity issues were compounded by the release of the 2013 documentary film “Blackfish,” where an undercover SeaWorld employee videotaped some of the other employees treating the whales being held in captivity extremely harshly.
Following the release of the film, SeaWorld’s profit dropped a whopping 75 percent compared to the year before. Their stock closed at $18.15 this past Friday, which is down 53 percent from their peak in May 2013, right before “Blackfish” became widely popular.
SeaWorld, despite its criticism, still maintains a state of the art whale housing and training facility, employing some of the world’s finest researchers, veterinarians, and trainers. They rescue sea lions, otters, and other endangered wildlife, and carry out efforts to protect threatened fish species.
The vast majority of SeaWorld’s whales are born in captivity, so releasing them back into the wild is quite difficult. SeaWorld announced its plans to triple the size of its holding tanks for killer whales at their San Diego location, to the tune of nearly $100 million. Similar renovations are scheduled to take place at the Orlando and San Antonio locations not long after.
The Coastal Commission’s decision to allow the renovation to move forward on the condition that no new whales be bred or introduced assures that SeaWorld’s days as an orca-centric facility are numbered.