Is SeaWorld really ending the Orca show?

Controversial 'Shamu' killer whale show set to end at the Southern California park,

SeaWorld San Diego has announced that it will close the Shamu Show, phasing the current attraction out by 2017. The controversial show, which features tricks and theatrics performed by the Park’s captive Orca (aka Killer Whale) population, has been its star attraction for a number of years.

However, the debut of the documentary film Blackfish, which documents how SeaWorld’s Orcas were captured and its current treatment of the animals, lead to a fall from grace for both SeaWorld and its current entertainment options.

The company fought back, announcing the Blue World Project, which will see a $100 million investment in the San Diego park. Featuring larger, deeper enclosures, with a more natural setting and a current for the Orcas to swim against, Blue World is designed to placate the Park’s naysayers.

However, the San Diego park in particular has suffered a public relations backlash, seeing plunging profits and declining visitor numbers. City regulators also stipulated that it would not allow Blue World to go ahead unless the Park stopped breeding Orcas on the property.

Slate notes that reports of the demise of the Shamu Show have been exaggerated, and that the Blue World Project may now not go ahead. According to the report, which detailed a call that SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby made to investors, the company believes that it can introduce a much more ‘natural’ and ‘educational’ show for a lot less than the original $100 million set aside for the project.

He believes that ‘trained tricks’ are less popular with guests, and a large part of the new show will feature more natural behaviours, such as jumping and splashing, both of which already play a part in the existing Shamu Show.

Time will tell what SeaWorld San Diego has in store, however, the fact remains that its resident Orcas are still in captivity, $100 million investment or not.