Good news for fans of animal exploitation in Texas: while SeaWorld just announced it is ending its killer whale performances in San Diego, its San Antonio and Orlando parks will continue with Shamu-riffic shows.
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby told investors Monday that the decision to nix the San Diego show was a response to its customers' changing tastes — but it also may have been prompted by the California Coastal Commission's recent decision prohibiting the company from breeding orcas in captivity.
The company took a public relations blow after the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which accused SeaWorld of mistreating orcas, including one that killed a trainer in 2010. (SeaWorld has called the film "propaganda," and issued an online rebuttal called "Truth About Blackfish." As you might have guessed, a left-leaning blog, Crooksandliars.com, issued a rebuttal to the rebuttal, called "The Truth About 'The Truth About Blackfish.'" We hope this continues ad infinitum).
SeaWorld San Antonio experienced a "slight overall decline" in attendance between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015, the San Antonio Express-News reported last week. Unlike California guests' changing tastes, however, the dip in San Antonio was blamed on bad weather and "confusion in the marketplace" involving the park's Fun Card program.
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Still, SeaWorld is thinking of investing even more in San Antonio — the Express-News reported that the company is considering building adjoining resorts and possibly a "roller coaster concept called SeaWorld Rescue, which will simulate the rescue of animals." (As any expert will tell you, most animal rescues are conducted at 90 miles per hour, upside-down).
The Humane Society of the United States found Manby's announcement lacking, stating on its blog, "We urge SeaWorld to make its pledge more explicit and to phase out orca acts at all of its facilities, to end its breeding program, and to work with us on a plan to put the orcas in suitable environments."The non-profit also chided SeaWorld for "using the most highly intelligent animals in silly and dangerous performances."
It's no surprise that SeaWorld is experiencing greater public and political pressure in California than Texas and Florida — after all, it took quite a while for Lone Star lawmakers to ban shark-finning, a practice that relies on animal cruelty for the sake of soup.
It will be interesting to see if SeaWorld expands the San Antonio facility by adding resorts, or if, eventually, Texas guests will experience the same change in tastes as their California counterparts.