May 29, 2017
SeaWorld San Diego has opened their Shamu-replacement show, but fans aren’t as impressed.
The theme park decided to end its killer whale show in January after years of outcry and falling attendance since the 2013 documentary Blackfish criticized conditions of captive orcas.
Orca Encounter is the park’s new show and this time the whales won’t be ridden by trainers.
Instead, it’s a 22-minute educational experience that explains how killer whales eat, communicate and navigate, though the animals still receive cues from trainers.
‘With Orca Encounter, our guests can still see these amazing whales up close but in a documentary-style presentation that is engaging while still focused on education and inspiration,’ SeaWorld San Diego said in a statement.
The whales still breach, coming fully out of the water, as well as some other tricks, but trainers do not ride them and the show is more informative.
‘It’s pretty good, but they had a lot more impact when you had the trainers on the whale,’ one spectator told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Another said: ‘I learned a lot, but it wasn’t as exciting as the older shows.’
‘It’s nice,’ one person told the outlet. ‘I miss the old days when they were in the water, doing tricks and stuff. But that has gone away.’
The new show is still seeing opposition from PETA, who plans to lead a protest in front of SeaWorld Monday, according to the Union-Tribune.
‘No matter how SeaWorld tries to dress this up, it is still the same kind of show they’ve been offering for years, with the same kinds of abuses taking place,’ PETA campaign specialist in Los Angeles Matt Bruce told the outlet.
Orca Encounter is SeaWorld’s answer to the negative attention the park has been getting since the documentary Blackfish.
The film chronicled the life of Tilikum, an orca that killed Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld trainer, during a performance in Orlando in 2010.
Brancheau was interacting with Tilikum before a live audience at SeaWorld Orlando when he pulled her from a platform by her hair and held her under the water.
An autopsy report said Brancheau drowned but also suffered severe trauma, including multiple fractures.
Her spinal cord was severed and she sustained fractures to her jawbone, ribs, and cervical vertebra.
Brancheau’s left arm had also been ripped off near the shoulder and her left elbow and knee were dislocated.
It was the first trainer SeaWorld had ever lost, and Brancheau’s death became a national sensation in a country that had been raised on the famous Shamu shows.
Tilikum was seen as a true killer of a whale for years after Brancheau’s death, until Blackfish offered an inside look at the whale’s lonely life in captivity.
The orca died in January just before SeaWorld San Diego announced their decision to end its show.
The SeaWorld San Diego park has 11 orcas, ranging in age from two to 52 years old.
Under pressure from activists and faced with declining ticket sales, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced last year it was ending its theatrical orca shows and breeding program.
Parks in Orlando and San Antonio will end their shows by 2019.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced last month that it was eliminating 320 jobs across its 12-park company.
The company also announced that it would help develop its first SeaWorld park without orcas, in Abu Dhabi.
Source: Daily Mail.co.uk