SeaWorld Ends Whale Breeding

Bowing to years of intensifying social pressure, SeaWorld announced it will cease its popular orca breeding programs and “take a new direction” with its overall theme and mission.

While the animal activists leading the charge against whale captivity are cheering this development, most say it couldn’t come too soon, and their joy is mitigated by the fact that SeaWorld is not planning to release its current stock anytime soon. The company has 24 orcas spread across three parks, a final generation of a spectacular attraction which wowed audiences for decades.

SeaWorld’s Public Statement

In a public statement, the park’s leadership made it clear that it was definitely the public outcry that prompted this move. “Society is changing, and we’re changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guests to take action to protect wild animals and wild places.”

Activists nodded their heads, but they wanted more. They weren’t going to get it. Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld, put his foot down, drawing a definitive line through an op-ed piece in the LA Times. “Most of our orcas were born at SeaWorld, and those that were born in the wild have been in our parks for the majority of their lives. If we release them into the ocean, they will likely die.”

Many went on to say the park has not collected an orca from the wild in nearly four decades. This concession came on the heels of another, the promise to cease orca shows, something activists wanted but didn’t bother applauding. They wanted more. They got more. Now, for a time, it seems that will be all they get.

SeaWorld Treads a Fine Line

SeaWorld is walking a fine line here. Public outcry, mostly from viewers of the propaganda film, “Blackfish,” have turned disquiet about the shows into viral hatred online, barraging all things SeaWorld with a steady stream of vitriol and rage.

One particular group, PETA, crowed publicly about the announcement, saying it was a “payoff” for all their work. While no other group has challenged that claim, it was certainly the grassroots outcry that moved SeaWorld to action. PETA has been screaming for decades. Joe and Jane Public just started three years ago. Consumers vote with their wallet, and SeaWorld could see the writing on the wall … and at the turnstile.

David Milberg is an investor from NYC.