SeaWorld in San Diego to do away with killer whale show

Visitors are greeted by an Orca killer whale during a show at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Visitors are greeted by an Orca killer whale during a show at SeaWorld in San Diego.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - US theme park SeaWorld announced on Monday that it planned to phase out its signature killer whale show, which has come under intense criticism by animal rights groups.

The company said the orca whale show at its second biggest park in San Diego would be replaced in 2017 with a new "informative" attraction in a more natural setting, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The announcement came after the company suffered a heavy backlash following the 2013 documentary Blackfish spotlighted the impact of captivity on orcas in examining an attack in which one of the whales killed a trainer.

SeaWorld operates 11 parks and in recent years has seen attendance go down, notably at its San Diego park, in part because of the negative publicity on its orca whale show.

CEO Joel Manby on Monday unveiled to investors a five-point plan to reverse declining attendance at the company's 11 parks, including building awareness around the brand, bringing in new talent and launching new attractions.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has long clashed with the Miami-based marine tourist attraction, which it accuses of cruelty to animals, notably the killer whales used for entertainment.