SeaWorld San Diego Will Phase Out “Shamu Show” For One With A “Conservation” Message

Even amid growing concern about the safety and welfare of both the animals and their trainers, SeaWorld had remained steadfast in defending its signature “Shamu Show,” with commercials and marketing trying to reassure the public that it was doing right by these large and potentially deadly marine animals. Today, the heavily scrutinized theme park company took a step intended to quiet at least some of its critics.

SeaWorld’s flagship San Diego location will be pulling the plug on its current entertainment-oriented orca show, with the goal of replacing it with an event that is more informative for audiences.

Executives for the company announced the attempt to re-position itself amid several efforts from advocates, states and federal agencies to shut down the park’s breeding and entertainment shows, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

SeaWorld said in a webcast about its vision for the future, that it will phase out its current show over the next year in favor of a more informative program.

That show, expected to debut in 2017, will be designed to take place in a natural setting carrying a “conservation message inspiring people to act.”

The termination of the Shamu Show would effectively bring an end to the San Diego park’s theatrical shows. There was no word from SeaWorld on whether orca shows at its Orlando and San Antonio parks would be discontinued, The Union-Tribune reports.

SeaWorld has been the subject of much criticism since the documentary Blackfish came out in 2013, chronicling alleged mistreatment of orca whales by the park as well as accusing it of violating Occupational Safe and Health Administration laws.

The documentary looked at the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed in front of park visitors when an orca named Tilikum pulled her into the water and kept her under it during a performance. The documentary created quite a public relations headache for the marine park, landing it in Consumerist’s Worst Company In America contest for the first time in 2014.

The company has been trying to repair its tarnished public image ever since, launching a campaign called “Ask SeaWorld” and pledging to spend $10 million on orca research and expand the whale environment at the park, among other things.

Although SeaWorld has said it beefed up safety measures for its workers, in May the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in California cited SeaWorld San Diego for not properly protecting employees.

SeaWorld to phase out killer whale show [The San Diego Union-Tribune]