This rendering shows a view of SeaWorld's plans for larger orca habitats. Courtesy of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld announced a “transformational” plan for its killer whale exhibits that would double the size of its orca facilities.
“The first of these environments will be built at SeaWorld San Diego and is planned to have a water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility. With a maximum depth of 50 feet and a surface area of nearly 1.5 acres spanning more than 350 feet in length, there will be no other realm like this in the world,” according to SeaWorld’s announcement on its website. “The new environment will also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater killer whale viewing experience.”
Outside of scuba diving in the ocean (the largest realm in the world), maybe SeaWorld’s right. But according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, SeaWorld’s plans are still ill conceived.
“This is a desperate drop-in-the-bucket move to try to turn back the hands of time at a time when people understand the suffering of captive orcas, and it will not save the company,” PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman said in a statement. “What could save it would be the recognition that it needs not to make larger tanks but to turn the orcas out in seaside sanctuaries so that they can feel and experience the ocean again, hear their families, and one day be reunited with them. A bigger prison is still a prison.”
Naturally, SeaWorld doesn’t see eye to eye with the animal rights group that held a protest in Downtown San Antonio Thursday afternoon.
“Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,” Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Jim Atchison said in a news release. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above.”
Or, orca lovers could take a trip to the West Coast and take a whale watch boat and see not only orcas, but also a variety of other species swimming in their natural habitats, i.e., the ocean, which is the largest realm in the world.
SeaWorld, which bills itself of having a “legacy of leading-edge animal environmental design,” will incorporate a “fast water current,” which will supposedly allow orcas to “swim against moving water, thus functionally increasing speed and diversity.”
The first “environment” is expected to open in San Diego in 2018 with two more to follow in San Antonio and Orlando.
However, at the end of SeaWorld’s press release, there are three long paragraphs of legalese that explain the park’s “forward-looking” statements. We’re going to quote our favorite part of SeaWorld’s explanation of “risks and uncertainties” concerning those forward-looking statements.
“These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release, including among others: various factors beyond management’s control adversely affecting discretionary spending and attendance at the Company’s theme parks; inability to protect intellectual property or the infringement on intellectual property rights of others; incidents or adverse publicity concerning the Company’s theme parks,” and an infectious disease outbreak, along with changes in state and federal regulations.
And since we’re talking about orcas, here’s a video of orcas playing in a boat’s wake, in the world’s largest realm for marine mammals.