SeaWorld will shut down the killer whale exhibition at its flagship San Diego location by next year, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
In its place would be a new orca experience debuting in 2017, described as "informative" and designed to take place in a more natural setting that would carry a "conservation message inspiring people to act."...The plan to gradually phase out the Shamu show comes amid efforts at both the state and federal level to clamp down on SeaWorld by ending the captive breeding of orcas, which would effectively bring to an end the parks' theatrical shows.
It's unclear whether the new "experience" will feature live orcas, and whether the decision will apply to any of the company's other locations in San Antonio and Orlando. A SeaWorld spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
SeaWorld has faced broad public criticism—and a tanking share price—since the 2013 documentary Blackfish accused the company of keeping killer whales in inhumane conditions. The company has maintained that the whales serve a valuable scientific purpose, although many scientists disagree. The announcement also comes just days after a Congressional representative from California introduced legislation to ban the breeding of captive orcas and their capture from the wild.