The proposed expansions of the orca enclosures, while a small improvement from the existing tanks, are nonetheless inadequate to meet the welfare needs of these animals due to their size, intelligence, means of communication, and family ties and relationships. Furthermore, if the new exhibit is built in close proximity to the current Shamu Stadium, the construction activity and noise will disturb the orcas for years. This will no doubt increase chronic stress levels significantly.
Unless and until SeaWorld ends its orca breeding program and ceases its exploitation of orcas for entertainment purposes, AWI believes the whales at SeaWorld will continue to suffer. SeaWorld Entertainment’s tumbling stock prices are evidence of a growing public awareness that captive orcas suffer in captivity. SeaWorld should evolve with the times, close these exhibits, and instead focus on its existing work with stranding networks and pursuit of accurate conservation education.
If SeaWorld’s expansion plans will involve cost cutting elsewhere, then we have further cause for concern. When one is just talking about employees, needing to cut costs is concerning enough, but SeaWorld has the welfare of many difficult-to-maintain wildlife species to safeguard.