The past few days have been rough for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.  After missing their projected quarterly earnings target, despite an increase in attendance for the quarter, SeaWorld shareholder’s knee jerk reaction was to sell shares, which resulted in a 30% one day drop in the stock price.

Facing a shareholder sell off and mounting pressure online from activists, SeaWorld made an important announcement today that will change the shape of all SeaWorld parks, and standards and expectations in the marine park industry as well.

SeaWorld announced project “Blue World,” which is the most aggressive expansion plan in the history of Seaworld Parks. Killer Whale facilities will be expanded in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, doubling the size of the habitats.

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Project Blue World will include:

  • 1.5 Acre new pool
  • A Pool over 50 feet deep
  • Underwater viewing area with windows over 40 feet tall
  • Killer Whale Treadmill (news first broken right here on MiceChat)
  • Natural Landscaping
  • New Enrichment actives
  • and more

SEA_Underwater-Viewsm

SeaWorld is doubling down, and betting it all on black… and white, as they attempt to show the world that they are the experts in animal care. As they push the boundaries on the largest salt water habitats in the world, they are also setting a new standard for the entire aquatic park industry.

seaworld-san-diego-layoutsm

On top of the elements that will benefit SeaWorld’s whales and the general public, SeaWorld is also donating $10 million dollars in matching funds to help the Southern Resident Killer Whales that are endangered and known as the most toxic animals in the ocean, due to pollution in the the Pacific Northwest. SeaWorld will also be adding an advisory board of non-theme park scientists, to consult and advise the company on charting the course for animal care in the parks.

More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: SeaWorld Texas will be getting

  • New Sea Lion Show
  • New Sea Lion Habitat
  • New Dolphin Coastal Habitat
  • New Restaurant

Update 2: On a conference call with SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison, he confirmed that construction would be concurrent and that tentatively you would see San Diego open in 2018, Orlando in 2019 and San Antonio in 2020.  He also confirmed new enrichment activities for the whales that would include tactile exploration, and underwater windows for the trainers to engage with the whales in new ways.

  • sactoguy

    I am sorry but $10M to research for a population of whales that they decimated? its all a little too late. They just need to end captive breeding and the shows. I don’t think this helps them at all. Their attendance is going to keep going down till they change. Even in an article back in the spring from one of the San Diego papers did an interview with Ron Logan a former Disney executive that said they need to regroup and find a new star. I mean come on they spend more money on coasters and attractions then the killer whales. I do agree they take care of their animals, they are also here in California one of the lead rescue centers for marine mammals and birds – but they have yet to ever rescue an orca.. I just think its time. Just 10 years ago we were having the same discussion about elephants. Now we know they have to have families, larger paddocks and need to be left alone to thrive. Those zoos that could did and we have moved on.

    I grew up with SeaWorld (two times a years) and Marine World Africa USA, but its time to change and they should look towards the Monterrey Aquarium for guidance and or the National Aquarium. I would go go back if they stopped the Orca Shows and retired them like the National Aquarium did (THAT DOES NOT MEAN FREE THEM – THEY WOULDN’T SURVIVE!). I would pay to be able to see them up close and watch them swim right before my eyes and i would go back to SeaWorld.

    • I don’t follow. How did SeaWorld decimate a population of whales?

      • Tom319

        Yes….I was wondering this also. Spreading misinformation makes things easier i guess.

  • LoveStallion

    Guys, but what of the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium? Where’s their advocate?!

    • solarnole

      Or the dolphins at the Living Seas at Epcot. Killer whales are just big dolphins anyways. Whale sharks are fish so no one cares.

      I stopped going to Seaworld when they stopped giving free beer. It made every lame show and attraction ten times better. Save the humans free beer.

      • tooncity

        We give out free beer. It’s called food stamps.

      • solarnole

        I’m hoping that make the new shows super realistic and end the clown act.

        Imagine a live seal or goat on the shore being eaten by Tilikum. I would pay to see their natural predator instants. It would be like Jurassic Park.

    • Bigben51602

      I’m worried about the Starfish and sea urchins that have to live their lives in tiny pools getting poked and prodded by the grubby grimy hands of little kids everyday. FREE THE URCHIN

    • danielz6

      I was recently in Osaka this year and visited the aquarium because it’s one of the few places that has one. But my luck the whale sharks weren’t on display! I was so disappointed i couldnt see them. Amazing aquarium though, huge and vertical.

  • DCACM

    If only the new tank’s purpose was for rehabilitation with eventual release (ocean or sea pen), and the shows discontinued. I hope the public is smarter than SW is betting on.

    • There are no respected sources which believe that captive raised Orca can be successfully returned to the sea. And placing them in ocean pens puts them at risk that idiots will try to free or harm them. Can’t you just imagine a small army of brainwashed PETA drones cutting the nets to free Willie?!

      Ending captive breeding is a legitimate question that should be asked and debated. But “Free the whales” is just idiocy.

      The biggest threats to wild populations is not SeaWorld. SeaWorld doesn’t collect whales from the wild unless it’s to nurse them back to health after an injury or illness.

      It would be AWESOME if animal activists would start going after the real threats to aquatic life (fishing, pollution, global warming, whaling) and stop going after a company like SeaWorld which strives to educate and protect the sea.

      Makes you really stop and think about the mental condition of some of these activists, that they allow japan to annually slaughter hundreds of dolphins but get up in arms about SeaWorld attempting to educate people about the need to protect the sea and its inhabitants.

      PETA is only out to raise money by going after a high profile target. Unfortunately, that target is another animal welfare organization which does far more good than harm. I wonder what the harm/benefit ratio is for PETA? How many animals were killed last year at the hands of PETA? Thousands of cats and dogs were euthanized by PETA last year in its shelters. Meanwhile, they attack zoos and SeaWorld, organizations which actually help far more animals in the wild than they display in captivity.

      Twisted priorities to be sure.

      • Ride Warrior

        Right on Dusty! Whether times of high tide attendance or low tide, Sea World has continued to increase the scope of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of marine life (especially our fellow mammals) among humans and, as we travel through life, raised our consience toward enjoying their company in the parks where we often learn how to better protect them in the wild.

        The manifold possibilities of helping species flourish beyond far beyond danger of extinction are immeasurable. Even the fishing industry deserves protection so long as they do not run any type of fish or crustacians into danger of extinction. the circle of life is dependent on the eco system that respects the natural balancing forces of scavenger, preditor and prey.

        Sea World is to be commended for fighting those that would deny us the right to experience ocean life up close and personal so that we can more responsibly enjoy and respect nature, rather than simply bury life’s bounty of knowledge at sea.

      • Justonedream

        Ride Warrior: With all due respect, that is the oldest and most outdated argument in the book. Why do these creatures need to be seen up close for use to gain a greater appreciation of them? We have the internet now. We have whale watching excursions up the wazoo, things that didn’t exist in the 1960s when Sea World first came on the scene. The argument just doesn’t fly, or swim I suppose, in today’s day and age.

      • Cory Gross

        Whale watching is one of the worst things you personally can do to whales… http://wildwhales.org/conservation/threats/boat-disturbance/

      • Justonedream

        Cory : That is not what the article is saying. It is saying that whale watching is bad when people who abuse whale watching guidelines (ie get too close) . It suggests that it is OK if you follow the WHale Wise guidelines.

      • psa928

        Dusty, please do your homework before bad-mouthing a charity like PETA. They don’t advocate a “Free the Whales” agenda because most of these animals could never live in their natural habitat after spending so many years in captivity. Certainly any nutjob could cut a net and try to free a whale, but PETA wouldn’t sanction that any more than the ASPCA or HSUS would.

        What PETA is trying to do is prevent any more animals from ending up in the same situation, and the best way to do this is to educate the public. Unfortunately, patronizing a business like Sea World is only rewarding their behavior and showing them that if they put captive animals on display they can make money — and as a business, why would they not want to make money?

        It’s a never-ending cycle that must be broken, and PETA is stepping up to make that happen.

      • Bigben51602

        Bravo Dusty. Very well said

      • dizneedoll

        Dusty, where are you getting information that cats and dogs in shelters were euthanized by PETA? I chose not to go to Sea World anymore for ethical reason and I didn’t just watch Blackfish and come to that conclusion, I did look to other sources for information but there is a lot of misinformation on both sides that it’s hard to figure out fact from fiction. I’d really like to know where you got this information from. Thanks.

      • BlahBlahson

        dizneedoll, It’s a well-published fact that PETA has around a 90 percent kill rate in their animal shelters. The reasons for and against are murky at best, but it’s one of the primary arguments used against them.

      • MrTour

        Right on, Dusty! People like to target an easy hit. We call it the “identified patient”, the person who bears the symptoms…but is not the problem. If you want to heal the planet, boycott items from polluting nations! Stop driving your car to Walmart and ride your bicycle! Stop complaining about drinking and driving unless you are willing to breathalyze yourself every time before getting in a car while drinking. Pointing the finger at someone else does not help. Changing your actions does!

      • Cory Gross

        Justonedream,

        I just think it’s weird to be complaining about zoo-bred animals being in zoos, while offering chasing down packs of wild animals all day every day as a better option. Above and beyond the fact that being able to hop in a boat and chase down packs of wild animals is an economically elite activity. Apparently poor and middle-class people have to content themselves with watching YouTube, because THAT is so awesome.

      • Justonedream

        Cory: My point is that I don’t think it is chasing them down if you follow the guidelines. Law requires whale watchers to keep proper distance.

        Furthermore, if whale watching is an economically elite action, so then is SeaWorld.

      • MissDuchy

        I am one of those “activists” and must respond to your accusations. I am deeply concerned and very involved in efforts to protect other wildlife – I am committed to doing what I can to stop global warming, overfishing, and whaling. I have contributed substantially to efforts to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji (which BTW begins September so you better get started with the no doubt substantial efforts you make to protect the dolphins.)

        I am deeply offended at your insinuation that my mental condition is questionable and my priorities skewed. Whatever your exposure has been to animal activists, even if it has been negative, you can NOT paint us all with the same brush.

        And many of us are not calling for SeaWorld to free to orcas but rather to stop the shows, stop the breeding and make life as humane as possible for the whales currently in their care until the end of their natural lives.

        And one final point, the ocean sanctuaries that PETA is calling for are already in use by many dolphin research facilities and aquariums. They can work.

      • Red5

        In what world are you living where Whale Watching is an elitist activity!?! In most cases you can find VERY well reviewed companies that work with the various animal protection organizations and government agencies for way under the price of a one day ticket to Sea World. Combine that with cheaper accommodations and if you plan right cheap airfare. Going to Seattle CAN be cheaper than going to Orlando. I just did some research and flying on a value airline like Southwest which surprisingly has a BOAT load of flights to Seattle is surprisingly affordable.

        That is the point of Sea World becoming outdated. Today you CAN fly to see them cheaper than you could 50 years ago before the airline were deregulated. While we complain about having too many channels today a few of those channels have brought the natural world into our living rooms telling us first hand what these animals lives are like in nature…further decreasing the need for Sea World shows.

        For those comparing zoos to Sea World. Take a look at how zoos have evolved over the last 20 years. Gone are the elephant and camel rides as they were deemed too dangerous for consumers and in some cases when managed poorly not good for the health of the animal. Same things goes for dolphin and sea lion programs. It is more about natural behavior and not having the animals “perform” in silly shows or skits. If you are comparing zoos to Sea World you are still clearly out of step with the process of animal conservation and zoos in the US>

  • sactoguy

    Their original source for Orca’s was the southern resident population.

  • Red5

    Well…I am impressed they have FINALLY committed to a decent dollar amount for a program that benefits whales in the wild. With their extremely weak response of Sea World Cares they were spilling out generic speaking points with no teeth. They never committed to a dollar amount they spent on animal rescues, never pointed to any research they conducted that helped animals in the wild and never shared that they were taking federal and state money for the animals they rescued. They don’t even adequately fund the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute which has a budget under $9MM. Their own research groups gets 90% of their budget from private funds…and sponsors. This $10MM is a nice start on a piece offering.

    No one can argue that Sea World doesn’t take care of their animals. For the past 50 years those killer whales have been their reason for existence. You take care of your star since if you don’t your reason to exist is gone.

    The park management from 15 years ago saw the future and started betting on bigger attractions like roller coasters to keep attendance up. With major countries banning live capture of killer whales they knew they had to expand their market as they may eventually lose all of their animals.

    Sea World had a place in out culture and to some it did serve as jumping off point. As time went on and we expected the park to do more as we all became aware of global issues…it didn’t. To be honest…that was never their charter…it was to make money. My biggest issue with them is not captive wildlife, but trying to mask what their main purpose is…to make money and not drive research. That was by far a secondary aspect as their research has been focused on how to feed them and care for them in a captive environment.

  • DCACM

    Dusty, thank you for insulting myself and a number of your readership. For the record, those that protest and raise awareness of “Shamu’s” plight also do the same for the dolphins at Taiji.

    • You can choose to be insulted that I don’t agree with you, but when you make the sort of accusations you are making, you need to be prepared to have people call you on your views.

      • MissDuchy

        First of all, what “accusations” is DCACM making? Second, “calling people out on their views” is not the same as insulting them. Your comments about animal activists are not only insulting, they are wrong. You can disagree with my views but you have no right to call into question my “mental condition.”

  • WDWfanBoston

    Dusty, thank you for standing up for free and independent talk. After Blackfish was exposed for the fraud that it was, I thought the Blackfish drones would stop repeating the same, uneducated propaganda. I guess I was wrong.

    • Justonedream

      If Blackfish is a fraud, then so is EVERY movie you have ever watched. That is the medium of editing my friend.

      • WDWfanBoston

        Let’s clear a few of things up:

        1) We’re not friends.

        2) Blackfish is as almost much of a work of fiction at the Expendables 3. It takes an absolute tragedy and exploits it for its own devices. Gabriela Cowperthwaite has an agenda, and it has very little to do with “saving the whales.”

        3) Making almost a quarter of the comments on an article, without any sense to almost any of them, either makes you a troll or completely ignorant.

      • Justonedream

        I apologize if I came across as rude in my first comment. The truth is, that is what many documentaries are like, they use editing to push a particular agenda. In fact, this is what many good movies do. Although I am a little off-put by captivity, I will give it to you: the film is too one-sided. I think it would have made for a much stronger, if more nuanced, argument if it offered views from both sides.

        Moderators: Is there any rule for posting several comments in a thread you are passionate about? I don’t think I qualify as a troll. Which comments in particular do not make sense? To summarize, I said the following:

        1. You shouldn’t need to get up close to an Orca whale to know that you should appreciate it, respect it, and be environmentally conscious.

        2. I agreed with a comment to stop the daily Shamu shows. I don’t think that animals should be performing tricks. I do not think this is an unreasonable demand.

        3. I actually commended SeaWorld for expanding the tanks.

        4. I suggested that size is relative, and that even a large tank is not that big when compared with the ocean.

        5. I agreed with Dusty that PETA can be hypocritical in that they focus on a few choice issues. Why aren’t we complaining that many reptiles at zoos are housed in woefully insufficient exhibits that are essentially small boxes? Why are we focused on just Orcas? Where do we draw the line.

        I do not believe I have been troll like nor ignorant. I am actually pretty well-researched in this issue and believe I have been contributing, not detracting, from the argument. I actually agree with several pro-cap points and I feel like I’ve been pretty reasonable here. I am sorry you feel otherwise. I do not like to make enemies on the forum, so I hope you will forgive my initial rude response.

  • swimboy97

    Thank you Dusty, well said. SeaWorld alone did not destroy the population alone. Were they wrong when they took the whales, Yes!

    There is no way to release the whales at this point as they would die on thier own. SeaWorld is making a big effort to give them more room, they are trying and for someone to say $10 million in donations to support the endangered groupis is not enough, is just petty.

    PETA is disgusting to me and they act like they are the saviors of all animals, they are not. While some good effort has been made with less research and testing on animals there are deeper non publisized acts that should make PETA shameful. As written above they kill a large number of animals taken to them every year. They would rather see a whale die being re-released into the ocean or dog and cats dead then in an enclosure or a cage waiting for adoption.

    Do some more research before talking about your personal opinion that appears non factual.

  • TodAZ1

    I think this expansion is really a great step forward.

    However, they need to take the next step and stop the Shamu shows. No animal should have to jump through hoops to justify their own existence.

    • Justonedream

      I agree with everything you said here.

    • dizneedoll

      I agree also. I would be ok with larger pens that allow public viewing but the shows have to stop as well as the breeding program. Hopefully it will and not just the orca shows but also dolphin, sea lion etc. I don’t know what all they have there anymore.

    • LoveStallion

      Also, we should ban the Westminster Dog Show.

    • redmars

      When I first saw the news, I thought this was what they were going to do – it isn’t until you scroll down and see the schematic that they are keeping the arena. When I was a little kid, I loved the show. But its hard not to see it for what it is, a circus act that is quite dangerous for the human performers and demeaning to a majestic animal.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      The jumping through hoops is, essentially, the paradox of orcas in captivity. On the one hand, it’s super insane to have an animal this large and intelligent perform tricks to delight the public. On the other, without those tricks, the animals would be bored in their relatively small tanks, doing nothing all day.

      So you don’t want the whales to jump through hoops for fish, but that same said unwanted activity is essential stimulus for the whales in a small, artificial environment. Kind of the thesis statement for not keeping the whales captive in the first place, no?

      Don’t get me wrong: the reason for keeping the whales in captivity is “humans be killing the planet, yo.” And until we get our act together on a larger, planetary scale, it’s quite possible that the only way to preserve any oceanic wildlife in the future ARE places like SeaWorld.

      I’m for the ending of orca captivity, totally. But I’m not so idealistic as to presume that the orcas are exactly better off in an ocean polluted, warmed, filled with plastic, cruised by tourist, and traversed by trade routes. Nor do I think that people moved by the whales, either via Blackfish or via a park visit, are sooooooo moooooooooved as to change their behavior on a larger scale. Is the common Blackfish viewer doing anything BUT not going to SeaWorld, a park they probably already weren’t going to? Does the common SeaWorld visitor look beyond the wonder and the cute plushies to the depths? I doubt it.

      From a business standpoint, if they think this is the way out of the downward trend, they better build those larger and more thematic habitats MUCH faster than they’re indicating on the timeline, because if Potter 1.0 plus Blackfish did this to SeaWorld attendance, they really don’t have that much time before Potter 2.0, New Fantasyland and future, newer attractions make the attendance rolls fall off a cliff.

      On the plus side, we’ll finally get to see Cedar Pointe Orlando by 2020!

      • danielz6

        That isn’t the reason why animals are in zoos. They are in captivity because our curious nature and never ending quest for entertainment creates in us the desire to see these exotic animals with our own eyes. We as humans always prefer to experience something for ourselves, rather than just reading about it or seeing it on tv. Most people in the past could not afford a trip to alaska to see orcas or an african safari to see elephants so zoos bring the animals to us.
        Keeping them in captivity for humanitarian reasons are true for endangered species, but for non endangered it’s simply a politically correct marketing tool to make you feel good about visiting.

    • CaptainAction

      How does anyone here know that they don’t love the attention of the shows?
      How does anyone know that they don’t love doing the acts?
      Very suspicious of don’t free the whales but stop the shows.
      That could be very depressing for them.
      Man made Global warming is a farce too.
      Watching whales with your eyes is bad for the whales – more bull.
      Only rich people can watch whales – their are always folks with more money who can do more things – goofy college professors who like to be sheltered from the real world so they can avoid debating the successful who work and create jobs for a living.
      Same crowd I’ll wager.
      Stop the whale shows, take more tax money from people who work and give it to people who won’t work, tax all production to hurt producers, tax all energy because man makes Global warming. All Bull.
      Lazy, thoughtless, knee jerk reactions.
      If I run a company, I hope everyone has a job, money, and the economy is rolling.
      Keep attacking the producers and you hurt those who need jobs.
      Tax the Luxury Yacht Owners – kill the Luxury Yacht builder’s jobs – morons.

      • Red5

        This response is lacking focus and reality.

        Do some research. Going on a whale watching excursion is cheaper than one day at Sea World. It is not elitist.

        Eliminating the shows would not reduce the workforce by anything significantly. They would still need 95% of the labor currently used to maintain the habitat, feed and care for the animals. The trainers could be re-assigned to be environment enrichment specialists for example.

        Tax the luxury yacht owners? WTH…you can’t keep on point…to make a point.

        As for global warming being bull..which is SO not part of this article, but you went there…and I will sink to your level. If you took high school physical science you learned about saturation point. This is the stage beyond which no more of something can be absorbed or accepted. That is something that is based on science…if you assume that our planet can’t reach a saturation point you are not only naive, but completely blind to our physical world. Man has made more of an impact on the physical aspects of this planet faster than any natural occurrence or disaster. Look at how many miles are off limits now due to nuclear accidents in Russia and Japan. We have poisoned out water supplies and tainted out ground soil. We have also PROVEN that we can impact our environment for the better as California an Colorado have done with air quality as it pertains to vehicle emissions. We improved the emissions and in turn improved air quality. LA for one doesn’t have as many bad air days as they did in the ’80s. To say that man has no impact on our environment or planet is reckless and irresponsible.

  • eicarr

    Investing in expanding the Orca tanks is great, but will do nothing to stall the attendance death spiral. The stock for that 60’s park concept is a strong sell.

  • Kenny B

    That’s a big tank, and a 40ft tall viewing area sounds incredible. I dig this

    • Justonedream

      Though I agree it is BETTER, and certainly better than Lolita’s tank or the pitiful tanks at the Duisburg Zoo, BIG is a relative term, especially when discussing whales and the ocean.

  • Justonedream

    I think enlarging the tanks makes the best of a less than-ideal-situation, so I am happy to hear this. I do question the motives, however. I think from a corporate perspective , the decision was a PR move rather than one for animal welfare, “damage control ” if you will.

    With that said, can we all agree that Sea World is NOT educational. Learning fun facts about whales is not educational, it is trivia. Education conditions people into a way of thinking, it is a far more involved and complex process. You cannot be educated from one day at an amusement park.

    Still, at least this expansion is SOMETHING.

    • Marko50

      Education – or the will for it – must start somewhere. SeaWorld is what convinced my daughter that she wanted to go into marine biology.

      The fact that she changed her mind later in life does not change that. She just decided people were more important and went into nursing.

  • DCACM

    Dusty, reread my post. I made no accusations.

    You chose to stir the pot by mentioning PETA and went on to liable those that are concerned about the animals’ well-being as drones and commenting on our mental state.

    Disagreeing is one thing,name calling and insulting is another.

    • Justonedream

      PETA may be a little radical, but at least they are well intention-ed. What other motives could they possibly have besides the welfare of the animals (same can be said about Seaworld trainers)?? It is easy to see, however, what other motives SeaWorld, as a business, could have (Read: $$$)

      • PETA seems more interested in dousing fur wearers in blood, killing shelter animals, and attacking high profile zoos, circuses and aquariums. In other words, they focus on the small abuses with high attention potential and ignore their real mission of helping animals. If they really cared about animals they’d be trying to stop ocean dumping, fight whaling and over-fishing and go to bat to control the global climate change disaster. Yet, they waste their resources fighting other animal rights groups. It’s stupid and they should be called out on it.

        Time for the spotlight to be shined on PETA’s unethical practices.

      • Justonedream

        Dusty: I disagree that PETA doesn’t have the best interest of animals in mind. I think that is there number one agenda. However, I agree that they are flawed. I’m a bit partial because I have always been obsessed with whales, so I care about this issue more than other animal rights issues. But it does seem a bit hypocritical. Why give one animal preference over another just because it is bigger, more intelligent , and pretty? Don’t small, dumb, and ugly animals deserve a good life, too? Also , where should I draw the line? Is it OK to go to zoos if I don’t support SeaWorld?

        I do think, though, that Orcas have proven themselves to be pretty unsuited for captivity. They often show aggression, have bent dorsal fins, get sunburnt, and exhibit repetitive behavior. I’m no biologist, but these seem like pretty obvious hints that they are not well suited.

      • Marko50

        It’s interesting that SeaWorld has joined Disney in this complaint: They’re only in it to make $$$.

        And yet Uni still gets a pass.

    • dizneedoll

      Dusty, again I ask where you are getting information that PETA has unethical practices when it comes to animals? I would also point out that I don’t expect Micechat to take any stance except a pro-Sea World one given the theme park driven content of the website. If you were to take a stand against Sea World I’m betting no more press invites for you guys.

  • tooncity

    They could be closed before they finish the tank.

    Corporate management was arrogant in managing the fall-out from the Blackfish film. They still haven’t answered the charges against them. The name Sea World is radioactive now. They’ve lost sponsorship’s. Top entertainers won’t touch this place. they tried to associate themselves with Steve Irwin’s daughter Bindy, bit that didn’t work.

    In California, the state legislator could still ban captive breeding of Whales. I think it’s likely that will happen.

    In the end, I think the Sea World San Diego will be converted into a Busch Gardens. All because management blew-it.

    • Marko50

      I don’t think the legislature has the votes to ban captive breeding.

      • Red5

        You don’t get SoCal politics. Below San Fran VERY conservative…above it…VERY liberal. If this goes to a vote…it has a very good chance of passing….if not..it will be very close which will further the conversation. In reality it doesn’t need to pass to have a negative impact on the business of captive breeding Orcas. Just brining it up for conversation provide further opportunity to push Sea World to confirm “what has it done for the better of animals in the wild”.

        Right now there speaking points have zero basis in the real world. They have NOT saved 23,000 animals personally…they have participated with other organizations across the US to save those animals. Those other associations get no credit. In addition that have taken federal and state money in those rescues, so not all on their own merit. As for the research….all they do is provide a list of research they have participated in over the years. What would push their point is driving awareness of how at least one of their programs has shed important new details on the plight of animals in the wild.

  • fnord

    I think they are theming the orca pools to seaside settings to impress the guests. I’m sure they know it won’t impress the whales much.
    Also, I believe these intelligent beings can certainly be released into the wild and adapt. Has anyone tried it and failed? Anybody know?

    • tooncity

      Yes, they tried it twice with both animals dying rather quickly. They spend million trying to do it. So yes lets hear for uninformed opinions.

      • OriginalMousekteer

        In response to your comment above “We give out free beer. It’s called food stamps”, may I point out a couple of inconvenient facts. At least here in California, food stamps can’t be used to buy alcoholic beverages or even some convenience foods. Furthermore, do you realize how many Disneyland cast members (and by extension, employees at other theme parks) receive public assistance? Do you have any idea how many uninsured DLR CMs got health insurance under the Affordable Care Act? Or how many of them were putting off essential medical treatment because they would have to choose between that or food?

        Do you have a sliver of a clue about how many CMs are living week-to-week, four to a room in the dilapidated motels on the fringes of the DLR area (including right next to K-Lot, the main CM parking lot) or even living out of their cars?

        Yes, indeed, “let’s hear it for uninformed opinions”.

  • mrcobra92

    Looks great! Anyone who’s worried about the whale shows, get over it. How does a few whales really effect the whole population of the ocean? Quick being killjoys and enjoy the show, if you don’t like it, keep your mouth shut because no one wants the hear you complain. Trust me, we have enough of that in the world as it is.

  • Baloo

    I have been near whales in the wild and not in any kind of whale watching trip but during scuba diving trips and excursions with a couple scientist. ( those are usually the kind of vacations I take including spending time in the middle of the amazon doing research).

    the reason I bring this up is because in the wild whales are very active and curious. Large part of their activity is doing many of the “tricks” that are mimicked in the shows at Seaworld.
    Although the idea of whales jumping and doing tricks for hundreds of guests may sound like cruel entertainment it actually is beneficial for them. It’s all part of enrichment activities that would normally happen in the wild to whales that have lived their lves in captivity.

    Also anyone that has visited SeaWorld and watched the whales in the arenas would noticed that these shows are never identical. If the whales do not want to participate then they don’t.

    Do I like the idea of large animals like these in captivity? Of course I don’t I also do not enjoy seeing Lions, Cheetas, tigers, elephants and thousands of other animals in captivity but I do see the significance and need to do that of and when they have a suitable enclosure.

    Let’s face it, population growth is destroying many habitats around the world, thousands of acres of jungles in South America are being cut down, rhinos and large cats are going extinct in Africa and other parts of the world along when hundreds of other species. We put to sleep bears and mountain lions here in Southern California because they sometime roam our neighborhoods even though we are the ones pushing into their natural habitats in the Midwest they allow hunting of wolfs and coyotes because our precious heards of sheep need the land.

    Humans hunt mammals in the oceans because they use parts for make-up and/or aphrodisiacs or because it’s great sport and catching large 100 year old fish will get someone a trophy and a check.

    This is where places like Sea World, Animal kingdom, San Diego zoo and other respectable organizations are needed. Many of these places have breeding programs that are constantly trying to reintroduce animals back in the wild when possible to bring some balance back in this world. If it wasn’t for places like these the magnificent California Condors would be extinct and black rhinos would be deleted from the list of living animals.

    • MissDuchy

      The California condor and black rhino were brought back from the brink by the work of dedicated not-for-profit organizations, governmental agencies and volunteers, not public corporations like SeaWorld. You are absolutely correct that many organizations have breeding programs to reintroduce endangered species in the wild. SeaWorld is not one of them. The push to get SeaWorld to drop its whale program is not a screed to ban all zoos and aquariums. That muddies up the issue and distracts from the point many of us are trying to make: orcas should not be exploited for entertainment purposes. If you’re going to keep an orca (or any animal for that matter) in captivity, you better have a darn good reason.

      And the shows were most definitely *not* created to provide enrichment for the whales. They were created solely as an attraction for people to enjoy, not the whales. In fact, most of the show’s tricks require orcas be trained to perform behaviors that are highly unnatural. Sorry, that argument doesn’t wash. Plenty of enrichment activities could be put in the show’s place…

      • designateddave

        That you used those animals as examples is amusing given the fact that SeaWorld donated around one hundred thousand dollars to the research and protection of those species. They had some of their veterinarians travel to South Africa to work with the South African government on the translocation of rhinos and study their health. Much of what has been learned of the medical care of whales and dolphins is due to the research done in the care of captive animals. this research allows for the successful rehabilitation of injured dolphins, whales, sea lions, seals, sea turtles, manatees, otters…
        here in Florida SeaWorld works with several other facilities for the Marine animal stranding and rescue programs. the government does provide some funding for these programs but SeaWorld takes care of cost of their own expenses.
        The shows were put together to entertain the public. the theming of the shows has changed over the years to involve more of a conservation message but the orcas doing “tricks” is still part of the program. The behaviors are not highly unnatural as you put it. They are behaviors within the animals’ natural range of behaviors with the exception of having it tied to music or a cue from the trainer. Fin and tail slaps and jumps are things seen in the wild. these behaviors are trained differently from things 20 or 30 years ago. Training is done through positive reinforcement operant conditioning which rewards good behavior and does not use punishment or starvation (contrary to what “Blackfish” portrays, or leads the viewers to assume) Trainers want the animals in their care to be healthy and well adjusted. they do not want to see aggression or lethargy. the trained behaviors do provide enrichment for the animals just like asking your dog to shake hands or “speak” provides enrichment, they just do it in the premise of a show.
        studies have been done on zoological displays as to how long guests spend at an animal display and to guest awareness of environmental issues of the animals based on signage and messaging points. Watching an interactive session or having an interactive experience with the animals has more of an impact than just viewing the animal. Aquariums and zoos capitalize on this by having keeper talks and shows about their animals as a way to increase awareness.
        With the internet age and videos the animal rights supporters constantly say zoos and aquariums are unnecessary, but in reality they are more necessary than ever. The new technological age gives us access to an information overload but also has a disconnected feel to the information available. As somebody who has worked professionally with animals for 25 years, I am still awed by experiencing wildlife up close and personal. Zoos and aquariums, including SeaWorld, have had a profound impact on my life and I am thrilled that SeaWorld has chosen to improve the animal’s enclosure by making more of a habitat. If you look at zoos and aquariums around the world more and more are choosing in favor of larger more elaborate “habitat” enclosures that provide more enriching lives for their residents. SeaWorld has done this for many of their smaller species, now finally it is the orcas turn.

      • Red5

        designateddave

        Sea World DOES take money from the government to recover costs associated with animal rescues as well as providing resources for their own research group…Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute which has an annual budget of around $8MM with over 95% coming from corporate and individual donations.

        http://www.guidestar.org/ViewPdf.aspx?PdfSource=0&ein=95-2304740

        As for the funds you mention for rhino research. Please site the location of that dollar amount. I am going to venture majority if not all of those funds came from a grant that uses funds from consumer purchases at parks based on merchandise purposes. They can’t take credit for money they funnel from consumers by rounding up their purchases as money that actually comes from Sea World.

    • Red5

      You are lumping in Sea World and Animal Kingdom with the San Diego Zoo? They have TOTALLY different charters and reason for being. Sea World and Animal Kingdom are pure commercial ventures made to make money and help animals when and where they see fit…which mostly benefits the ones they have in a tank.

      The San Diego Zoo and majority of other zoos are organizations that are not in business to make money, but to drive awareness of the plight of animals all over the world. They are a not-for-profit organization with much lower entrance fees to support that equal access program.

      Rescuing the California Condor was not rewarded with the ones living in captivity performing for the public. Zoos have been moving away from having their animals perform in public for decades. I would LOVE to see a video of an Orca in the wild doing a 360 spin in the air…head over tail. I don’t think that is a natural occurrence and if it is…it is rare. Dolphins..sure….not Orcas.

      Comparing commercial ventures to not-for-profits is not helping your case or theirs.

  • DizneGreg

    I for one love animals, and own many. And I love to see the concern that others have for the welfare of animals. But what always gets me is, the same people who are typically the most public about protecting animals, are also usually very much pro-abortion. We could argue all day about pro-life vs “women’s rights,” but in the end, it is massively offensive to me that so many people that get so up in arms about protecting animals, are not concerned about protecting innocent humans still in their mother’s wombs. And, begin the attacks…

    • unclemike

      Is anybody really pro-abortion? “Yay, abortion!!” Please.

      I’m very consistent in my viewpoint: I am much more concerned with animals *after* they are born, just like I’m much more concerned with children *after* they are born.

      • danielz6

        Good point. The fact that they are breathing air is the difference between a human and an unwanted object that can be thrown in the garbage.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        In lieu of the pre-medical period, where “abortion” was “tossing the kid into the river to drown,” I’m totally pro abortion.

        And considering this society of dunces, perhaps we should all be more pro abortion.

      • DizneGreg

        Yes, Abortion Clinics are very Pro-Abortion, because they are for-profit agencies. The more abortions, the more profits for them. They are NOT trying with all of their might to prevent pregnancies, quite the opposite. Family planning services have been known to intentionally give out faulty condoms for instance. They want unwanted pregnancies, so they can end them at a profit. Either by paying customers or government kickbacks. It is a billion dollar industry in America.

      • DizneGreg

        danielz6 and Aaronius Polonius, what a sad commentary. On the one hand, one of you states that there is no difference between a piece of garbage, and a wanted baby that is days from delivery, that has been names, viewed in ultrasounds, and anticipated with joy for months. Or were you just referring to the unwanted ones. Because, of course, they are completely different for some reason because of that lack of desire?

        Then, there is the opinion that the abortion Industry is much better today, compared to the “old way” of disposing of unwanted kids. You really believe that disposing of unwanted kids in much larger numbers, but without throwing them into the river is a better thing!? Do you have any idea of how late term abortions are performed anyway? I am guessing not if you think drowning them is worse.

        You people all need to wake up!

      • danielz6

        Diznegreg I was using sarcasm to point out the absurdity of the above comment.

      • CaptainAction

        If everyone who supported abortion, had been aborted, there wouldn’t be anyone to argue about abortion with.
        I’ve noticed all the people who support abortion have already been born. (Not original from me)
        Support the rights of unborn women. Over half of abortions are baby girls.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        I was not using sarcasm. Pro Choice. End Stop. You don’t approve of abortion? Don’t have one.

      • DizneGreg

        danielz6, sorry I didn’t pick up on the sarcasm.

        Pro-Choice. If you don’t approve of murdering someone, then don’t murder someone. That is essentially what you are saying. Sick.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Previously on “so far off topic…”

        Can we abort this conversation? Thanks!

    • AaroniusPolonius

      It’s pro life versus pro choice, for the record.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        While I certainly appreciate the comparison between abortion and captive orcas or other wildlife, the sad, human truth of it all is desire and commodification. We WANT the whales. We DONT want the unborn fetuses, nor the expense of orphanages, foster care, etc. And we don’t care if it’s a life or not, at least not insofar as to (a) make that declaration on the left or (b) educate and provide free and easy access to birth control on the right, because if you’re REALLY against abortion, you should really be FOR condoms, sex ed, and birth control pills, as that would (and is mathematically proven to) reduce the procedure dramatically. Which is why it’s not REALLY a moral issue but a RELIGIOUS one.

        If we didn’t want or commodify the orcas, we’d go out to the tank with a shotgun and be done with it. I have no allusions regarding the cruelty of man and our desire for convenience over compassion.

      • DizneGreg

        I AM for sex ed, condoms, and birth control pills. I’m not Catholic. But I am a Christian. It is a false assumption to think I can be pro-life, but can not be pro-birth control.

        I disagree that it is not a moral issue. I don’t know how it can’t be. Whenever a life is ended, how is that not a moral issue. And DO NOT tell me that a being with a beating heart, brain function, digestion, and all the earmarks of a living being, is not alive.

        You do make a good point on convenience vs. compassion though. You nailed it there.

  • ChrisNJ

    I do not support Sea World. And I have had enough experience to base my decision on facts – not a movie, or the new Sea World ad campaign trying to disprove that movie.

  • Professortango

    Thank you for calling out PETA! The group financially supports members of the terrorist orginazation ALF as well as others. Heck, they are against all medical advances that involve animals, yet they continue to use them because they need to Cary on the fight. So, you should stop taking insulin because its from animals, but they are too important to stop?

    And on the subject of Sea World…they are an entertainment company. For thousands of years animals have worked in entertainment and over thousands of years we have been improving our treatment of such animals. While all life should be respected, we need to stop pretending animals and people are equals. This constant lashing out at zoos, circuses, and theme parks because they exploit their animals for money is ridiculous. Most entertainers who work in such industries are exploited. Do you think its easy to be Goofy on a 100° day to earn a pay that barely covers room and board? And sure we can choose and animals can’t, but then again we can stop disease and enviormental threats and animals can’t. Let’s be happy Sea World is giving their entertainers this new facility and that are continuing to improve on the care if animals in the entertainment industry.

  • MissDuchy

    I did not see Blackfish. I am not a member of PETA. I do however, after researching this subject on my own, feel that SeaWorld and all other entertainment-oriented aquatic parks (Disney included) need to wind down their whale and dolphin programs. These enhancements do not address the undisputed fact that keeping these whales in captivity is bad for the animals. Furthermore, it does little to enhance real understanding and appreciation for orcas in the wild.

    The core problem is that a for-profit company, especially a public company, cannot be trusted to place the welfare of animals at the top of its priorities. Its reason for being is to make money and it has a fiduciary responsibility to serve its shareholders. This is the defining feature of capitalism – a system I’m very much in favor of but one that does not usually fit well when dealing with the public good. SeaWorld is not in business to educate, promote conservation or protect our oceans – it is in business to make money through entertainment. And indeed, here is an interesting piece that cites several numbers debunking the claim that SeaWorld contributes in any significant way to the study of orcas: https://www.thedodo.com/community/SamLipman/seaworld-science-strange-in-th-491661897.html

    Most important, there are several organizations, institutions, programs, etc. which do a far better job of educating people and conserving sea life and their aquatic environments than SeaWorld and like parks (much cheaper to visit too!) We do not need SeaWorld to learn about or protect the sea.

    I would love to see SeaWorld stop the shows, stop the breeding and take that $10 million dollar commitment to conservation and use it to care for the animals currently under its care as humanely as possible until they reach the end of their natural lives.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    So, considering the amount of replies, can we all say it’s safe to assume the controversy regarding orca captivity is alive and well?

  • Professortango

    I found one article about one Florida group accidentally giving out bad batches on condoms and recalling them. And if abortion clinics are pro-abortion due to that being their business, are doctors pro-disease? Are rape whistle companies pro-rape? Do janitors secretely hope you trash bathrooms and drop your filth around Disney parks? Is PETA pro-animal cruelty so it can continue to accept donations? These are some heavy charges, especially for a person whose friend works for Planned Parenthood. Pro-choice or not, everyone can recognize that abortions are an undesirable situation for all healthy-minded human beings. Abortion doctors are no more cold and callous death merchants than a doctor who chooses to work with terminal cancer patients. These people work in emotionally taxing enviorments because they are drawn to bringing comfort to people. I know its easier to fight things when you dehumanize people, but remember you are dehumanizing an actual person.

  • danielz6

    Zoos/aquarium will always exist because people will always want to experience things first hand if possible. It’s simply human nature. We are curious and exploaratory by nature. Im all for treating animals as humanely as possible, but not equal with humans.
    I wonder if all the people agreeing with PETA have never owned a pet, never eaten a hamburger or sushi, never been to a zoo, never killed a mosquito etc. Actually human civilisation alone is a violation of PETA as your city and neighborhood, resources have all come at the expense of nature. Hypocrisy abounds.
    Oh and don’t forget if you’re ever stranded in the ocean or lost in a forest, animals will not be affording you equality with them, you will compete for resources and either survive or die.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      I’m not so limited that I have to see something first hand to appreciate it.

  • MissDuchy

    One final comment before I’m labeled a “troll” for posting too much – if you want to be anti-PETA, that’s fine but do not conflate PETA with the millions of people outside of PETA who have spoken out against SeaWorld’s practices with their voices and their pocketbooks. Practically every significant marine research facility, animal rights group, and wildlife protection organization has called for SeaWorld to end the shows and stop the breeding.

    If your argument consists largely of trashing PETA (or for some unknowable reason, abortion), its most likely because you have no relevant arguments concerning the subject at hand. It is the worst type of association fallacy and does little to inspire intelligent people to continue the discussion.

    • Justonedream

      MissDuchy: I did not know that posting a lot qualifies you as a troll. I would assume that as long as each post is intending to contribute in a meaningful way that you’re fine.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      MissDuchy,

      I find that on theme park enthusiast boards, you’ll find overwhelming support for SeaWorld. Don’t get me wrong; there are valid points made inside the chum, but the slant is decidedly for SeaWorld. I suspect it will only get more strident as less people go to SeaWorld, both because of a change in public opinion and because the competition for attendance is that much stronger.

      As for abortion, that was indeed a troll post, conflating caring for whales with apathy for unborn fetuses. I reflexively engaged with said troll and shouldn’t have. But sometimes I get political with those holding opposing views.

      One thing unmentioned thus far in the debate is the idea of cross bred pods now forming a “SeaWorld” pod. That makes it highly unusual for any release into the wild debate.

  • Justonedream

    And amen for your well-stated post.

  • Tinkbelle

    I appreciate Sea World and the orca shows. I hope this plan works for them.