SeaWorld said it will stop breeding killer whales in captivity, bowing to years of pressure from animal rights activists, Reuters reports.
But the killer whales, also known as orcas, that are already at its three parks will continue performing as they live out their remaining years.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s decision came after it pledged in November to replace its signature “Shamu” killer whale shows in San Diego with modified presentations of the animals that focus on conservation.
“We don’t need all these theatrical ‘tricks,’” SeaWorld president Joel Manby said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
Manby said the parks will use birth control to halt reproduction among its orcas.
SeaWorld, which operates marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, has a total of 29 orcas, including six on loan to a park in Spain.
Five of them were captured in the wild, but it has not caught orcas at sea for almost 40 years.
The parks have been criticized for their treatment of the captive marine mammals. The criticism intensified after three orcas died at SeaWorld San Antonio within a six-month period last year.
The life span of a killer whale in the wild is typically 30 years for males and 50 for females, with some females living as long as 100 years, the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.
SeaWorld’s oldest killer whale, Corky, is a 51-year-old female.
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