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SeaWorld to Phase Out Killer Whale Shows
SeaWorld San Diego announced Tuesday it will phase out its controversial killer whale shows beginning next year. The theme park will then launch a “new orca experience” in 2017, displaying the giant mammals in a more natural setting. The move is in response to years of criticism of the killer whale shows, which many consider to be cruel. "We start everything by listening to our guests and evolving our shows to what we're hearing, and so far that's what we've been hearing in California," read a statement from SeaWorld CEO John Manby. "They want experiences that are more natural and experiences that look more natural in the environment," Manby continued. The executive did not say whether the changes would also affect SeaWorld parks in San Antonio and Orlando.
Criticism of SeaWorld's killer whale shows has been going on for years, but was elevated in 2013 after the release of the documentary film, Blackfish. The film drew the ire of animal protection groups, and sparked government scrutiny into how orcas are bred in captivity.