SeaWorld phasing out killer whale shows in San Diego - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

SeaWorld phasing out killer whale shows in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- SeaWorld is ending its killer whale shows in San Diego, the company announced Monday in a corporate webcast for investors.

SeaWorld San Diego will phase out its killer whale show beginning in 2016, according to the presentation. In 2017 it will debut what it termed a new “orca experience” designed to provide an “informative and more natural setting” and a “conservation message inspiring people to act.”

The company added that it will re-allocate a portion of the $100 million it had earmarked for the "Blue World" project, a plan to expand its killer whale habitat.

The San Diego ocean theme park took a hit last month when the California Coastal Commission approved Blue World, but ordered an end to the breeding of captive orcas at the park. That ban would also eventually phase out the Shamu exhibit.

Blue World, marked to open in 2018, would have tripled the size of existing killer whale enclosures.

The CCC ruling bans SeaWorld San Diego from breeding, selling, trading or transferring captive orcas. It also bans breeding through artificial insemination. It applies only to the California park, and not SeaWorld facilities in other states. The amendment does provide a potential exemption for certain whales caught in the wild. The park currently has 11 killer whales.

SeaWorld has said it plans to challenge the commission's ruling.

Since the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld has experienced plunging attendance and falling stock prices.

SeaWorld draws saltwater from Mission Bay for its killer whale pools. That means the facility uses a marine resource for the tanks and therefore the CCC has a say over the animals living in them, she said.

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