PBS Newshour Extra, Teacher Resources 7-12gr.
SeaWorld will end its orca whale breeding program following growing controversy and protests over the animals’ captivity in recent years.
In the announcement, made with the Humane Society, SeaWorld said the orcas currently residing within their facilities will remain in their care, but that the parks’ famous theatrical shows involving the animals will phase out as they cease breeding.
Criticism by animal rights activists and the wider public grew after an orca drowned a SeaWorld trainer in 2010. The 2013 documentary “Blackfish” brought even more attention to the subject by examining the psychological effects of captivity on orcas.
“People’s view of having these majestic, very large animals under human care has changed over time. And more and more people are becoming uncomfortable with it,” SeaWorld CEO and President Joel Manby said following the announcement.
Ticket sales and stock options for SeaWorld dropped significantly in recent years, as did attention from the state legislature.
SeaWorld also announced a plan to commit $50 million to rescue operations for marine animals over the next five years. Manby said he hopes the new changes will lead to their facilities being used as a sanctuary for rehabilitation.
orca whale — also known as killer whales, a toothed whale belonging to the dolphin family, of which it is the largest member
animal sanctuary — a facility where animals are brought to live and be protected for the rest of their lives
Warm up questions (before watching the video)
- What is SeaWorld?
- What do you know about the controversy surrounding the use of orcas in performances at SeaWorld shows?
- Do you think SeaWorld should continue to use marine animals in their shows?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
- Why did SeaWorld stop using orcas in their shows?
- Do you think SeaWorld made the right decision to stop using orcas in their shows? Explain.
- What do you think about the idea of Sea World using only rescued animals who cannot be released back into the wild for their shows? Explain.
- What responsibilities do humans have for animals?
- What are some guidelines that you would use to make decisions about how animals should be treated?