The Shamu show at Sea World has been at the center of controversy for years now. On Monday, the theme park announced it will be doing away with the show at the San Diego location.
Sea World plans to keep the whales but feature them in a more natural environment where they won't have to perform tricks. So is it enough to change the perception of Sea World with conversationists?
The show is currently called "One Ocean" and has been a fixture at the San Diego park for decades. The jumping, diving, and splashing will come to an end by 2017.
CEO Joe Manby says it's more in line with park-goer values.
"In 2017 we will launch an all new Orca experience, a natural setting, and a strong conservation message," said CEO Joel Manby.
Dr. Grey Stafford, the director of the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park, started his career at Sea World 25-years-ago. He says the 2013 movie Blackfish did a huge disservice to the park, inaccurately portraying SeaWorld's care and treatment of Orca's.
"It's misled not only the public but also state and federal regulators and so forth, to thinking that these animals don't receive great care when in fact they do," said Dr. Stafford.
SeaWorld has seen a steady decline in attendance in 2015; the park has been recently threatened by a proposed "Orca Act" that would force SeaWorld to end Orca captivity. Valley residents shared mixed reactions to the changes.
"It's really gonna change how people go, I mean that's what people go to see is Shamu, and you know sit in the splash area, what's the point of going now. I think they belong where they belong, that's not captive, that's in the ocean being free, doing what they're intended to," said Leanne.
"What I worry is that if they do make it more a private and intimate type setting you're not going to get the reach of thousands of kids every single year. As inspiring as they are, the shows, the entertainment value, the educational value, all of it was so powerful, and I think it's in the past now," said Stafford.
SeaWorld stands by the fact that its customers "want to see killer whales in a more natural environment." Seaworld did not address the orca performances at SeaWorld's other parks in San Antonio and Orlando.
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