SeaWorld's controversial system has been under pressure from animal rights activists for years - including Harry Styles who famously urged concert-goes in Cali last year to boycott the chain of American aquatic attractions. Blackfish, the 2013 documentary, further put pressure onto the multi-billion-dollar franchise. The documentary delved into the park's biggest attraction - Tilikum the killer whale's - angry rampages, which killed three people, including top trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
Yesterday it was announced that SeaWorld would no longer continue to breed orcas in captivity, meaning that the 29 orcas currently in captivation would be the last.
Seaworld last captured a killer whale from the wild 35 years ago and since then, the orcas have been bred in captivity.
The Blackfish documentary, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, highlighted the crowded living conditions and distress of the wild animals. It showed the killer whales' violent attacks on each other and on the people who care for them. Following the budget documentary, the (estimated) $2billion SeaWorld industry were forced to take action and in November 2015 announced the 'phasing-out' of live orca shows.
Despite protests from activists claiming that the orcas should be realeased into the wild, CEO Joel Manby insists that the orcas will remain in the parks until they die. In an op-ed with the LA Times, he said 'Most of our orcas were born at SeaWorld, and those that were born in the wild have been in our parks for the majority of their lives.' He added 'If we release them into the ocean, they will likely die.'
It is a victory for animal activist groups worldwide, and a step in the right direction for SeaWorld. But we have still got a very long way to go.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.