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SeaWorld Agrees To End Captive Killer Whale Breeding

Itsuo Inouye / AP
 

Itsuo Inouye / AP

Erik Anderson | KPBS

SeaWorld is bowing to public pressure and stopping captive breeding of killer whales. Orca performances are also ending next year. 

The decision was a surprise. SeaWorld and the Humane Society of the United States announced a partnership that effectively phases out captive killer whale programs and performances at the aquatic parks. SeaWorld San Diego president John Reilly says the company was responding to a changing world.

“We love our whales and so do many of our visitors at SeaWorld. But we also know whales have become a growing concern for many people. The world is changing. And in the case of Orcas it is an attitudinal change that we helped create. And now we need to change too,” says Reilly.

Killer whales have been the face of the company since the 1970s. The news was welcomed by most of the park's critics. But the advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it doesn't go far enough. They want SeaWorld to release its orcas.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom hopes to make sure SeaWorld's decision is permanent in California. Bloom failed to ban captive breeding of Orcas two years ago. Now that SeaWorld has had a change of heart, he’s giving his legislation another try.

“I will also be reintroducing legislation that will permanently end captive breeding anywhere in California as called for in my original bill from two years ago. But today we'll be doing that consistent with SeaWorld's new policy."

The measure also prohibits new Orcas from being brought into the state and only allows transfers between facilities that currently house the killer whales.