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Sea World to phase out orca shows

Controversy over the captivity and breeding of orcas has plagued SeaWorld in recent years, particularly following release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” which chronicled the story of the orca Tillikum, who had taken the lives of several people while captive. Animal rights groups and environmental activists across the country protested the captivity and breeding of orcas, new legislation was sponsored to protect them and SeaWorld’s attendance and profits began to lag. 

But this may change now: following regulatory scrutiny and mass demands, SeaWorld has officially announced the end of its orca-breeding program. The remaining whales will stay in captivity until their natural deaths. As SeaWorld no longer collects orcas from the wild, this means that these whales will be the last generation of orcas to be kept in captivity by the company. 

Personally, I applaud SeaWorld for deciding to change their policies, whether or not their primary motivation was the welfare of the animals in question. This is an important example of positive change that common people can create in the world, as most of the pressure towards SeaWorld came from normal people protesting the company’s actions and not attending the parks.  

For some, this isn’t enough. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have commented that while this is a step in the right direction, it can’t be the last step. Many would prefer the orcas be removed from the parks entirely and placed in ocean sanctuaries, and frankly I agree. SeaWorld has kept these animals in captivity and profited off of them for years, and should take steps to ensure that the remainder of their lives are lived as painlessly and comfortably as possible. To that end, they should be placed in ocean sanctuaries, or at the least be afforded more room in their enclosures while the remaining whales live in captivity. 


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