April 19, 2016
SeaWorld, in a letter to the California Coastal Commission this week, reaffirmed its intent to no longer enlarge the killer whale tanks at its San Diego park.
Although the commission last year approved a $100 million proposal to double the volume of the orca habitat, it imposed a condition requiring that the theme park end all breeding of its killer whales. SeaWorld subsequently sued the commission, arguing that the agency has no legal authority to take such an action.
With SeaWorld’s announcement last month that it will no longer be breeding orcas at any of its marine parks, the company decided to formally withdraw its application for the tank expansion project, known as Blue World.
“This letter serves as SeaWorld San Diego’s formal withdrawal of coastal development permit Application 6-15-0424 for the Blue World orca habitat expansion,” reads the letter sent Monday to the commission.
It added, “Closing the Blue World application file at this time means SeaWorld’s legal challenge to the proposed project conditions no longer is warranted. SeaWorld counsel soon will contact Coastal Commission counsel to discuss dismissal of the pending litigation.”
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has spoken frankly about how he agonized over the breeding ban decision but said he ultimately realized that changing public attitudes about the welfare of the whales were keeping people from coming to the marine parks.
Now that the Blue World project has been abandoned, SeaWorld has said that some of the $100 million budgeted for it will be diverted to new attractions designed to showcase the park’s conservation efforts while enticing people to return to SeaWorld.