Last year, SeaWorld filed a request with California Coastal Commission to build new tanks for its Orcas. Commission spokeswomen Noaki Schwartz said they received more than 120,000 emails from people about the proposed expansion, mostly from those opposing the project.
For decades the public has voiced their concerns over SeaWorld’s operations, and the corporation has been listening. SeaWorld made an announcement this month that it will end all breeding programs and phase out theatrical activities for captive orcas currently in the park’s care.
“Attitudes about orcas have changed dramatically,” Joel Manby, President and CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, wrote in an opinion letter to LA Times. “We are proud of contributing to the evolving understanding of one of the world’s largest marine mammals. Now we need to respond to the attitudinal change that we helped to create.”
Aside from ending orcas breeding, SeaWorld will also be collaborating with the Humane Society of the United States to stop commercial whaling, seal hunts, shark finning, and ocean pollution, and help raise awareness of animal welfare. It has committed $50 million USD over the next five years for its ongoing marine rescue efforts for stranded wildlife, and an additional $50 million to support other conservation and rescue groups.
“Without a critical mass of informed and energized people, humanity will never make the difficult decisions that are necessary to halt and reverse the exploitation of wild places and the extinction of wild species,” said Manby. He calls upon governments, concerned individuals, nongovernmental organizations, and private sectors to join in and address this “impending crisis” and help restore biodiversity.
“SeaWorld will continue to create the constituency for conservation,” Manby said, “just as we helped to inspire the changing attitudes that, in turn, inspired our company’s changing policies.”