SeaWord San Diego ends world-famous killer whale show
SeaWorld San Diego ended its long-running killer whale show on Sunday, following years of protests and falling attendance.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced last year that it was ending its theatrical orca shows and breeding programme.
The final performances, which featured whales cavorting with trainers and leaping high out of the Shamu Stadium pool, came only days after one of the theme park’s most famous whales died.
Tilikum the orca died last week after more than two decades at SeaWorld Orlando, where he gained notoriety for killing a trainer in 2010 and was later profiled in the famous documentary "Blackfish", which was critical of keeping killer whales in captivity.
I attempted to leave a sign for Tilikum at the entrance to SeaWorld today along with 33 red roses, one for each year he spent in captivity. pic.twitter.com/fpSzdDCwxF— Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) January 8, 2017
The whale was the first of SeaWorld's orcas to die since the company announced the end of its orca breeding programme in March 2016.
In a statement announcing Tilikum's death early Friday, SeaWorld officials said he had serious health issues including a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection. He was estimated to be 36 years old.
SeaWorld San Diego said a new orca show, which is being billed as an educational experience, will be unveiled this summer in a revamped pool. The new show, Orca Encounter, will demonstrate how killer whales eat, communicate and navigate.
The park said it would unveil an “interim orca presentation” from Monday morning.
Under pressure from activists and faced with declining ticket sales, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced last year it was phasing out its theatrical orca shows.
"Blackfish" director Gabriela Cowperthwaite told US television network CBS that the new show was designed to make the audience feel better, not the animals.
"The trainers aren't safe, and the whales aren't happy," she said. "They're still just doing manic circles around concrete swimming pools."
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced last month that it was eliminating 320 jobs across its 12-park company. The company also announced that it would help develop its first SeaWorld park without orcas in Abu Dhabi.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
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