ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — After years of pressure, SeaWorld made the surprise announcement that it no longer breeds killer whales in captivity and will soon stop making them leap from their pools or splash audiences on command.
Surrendering Thursday to a profound shift in how people feel about using animals for entertainment, the SeaWorld theme parks have joined a growing list of industries dropping live animal tricks. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is retiring all of its touring elephants in May. Once-popular animal shows in Las Vegas have virtually disappeared.
According to the company, SeaWorld’s 29 killer whales will remain in captivity, but in “new, inspiring natural orca encounters.” SeaWorld’s orcas range in age from 1 to 51 years old, so some could remain on display for decades.