So there’s good SeaWorld news and bad SeaWorld news. The good SeaWorld news is that, after decades of criticism, the park will phase out its infamous Shamu show next year. The bad SeaWorld news is that the killer whales will just star in a new show.
OK so there’s actually a little bit more bad news. SeaWorld executives announced the programming change on Monday, but it looks like it will only affect the San Diego park for now. The new orca show will debut there in 2017, after the whales’ habitat gets a facelift and an enlargement. SeaWorld says the new habitat will be more natural and the new show will be “informative” with a “conservation message inspiring people to act.” Isn’t that nice?
Well, it’s not as nice as actually freeing the freaking whales. SeaWorld’s PR play comes just a few days after Adam Schiff, a southern California congressman, announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban all public displays of orcas. This is just the latest outrage, too. The 2013 documentary Blackfish alerted millions to the poor treatment and sometimes deadly dangers of SeaWorld’s imprisoning orcas for the sake of entertainment. The movie came out a whopping 20 years after Free Willy. So this is not a new battle.
Sure, it is kind of encouraging that SeaWorld is doing something. It’s just a damn shame that it feels like an empty gesture dreamed up by a public relations executive to win misleading headlines like this one. Don’t take the bait, though. SeaWorld still sucks.
Image via AP