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SeaWorld to end killer whale shows by 2017 in San Diego

Published 09/11/2015

SeaWorld has seen revenue drop since the release of the documentary Blackfish, which criticised its treatment of killer whales in captivity. (AP)
SeaWorld has seen revenue drop since the release of the documentary Blackfish, which criticised its treatment of killer whales in captivity. (AP)

SeaWorld is to end killer whale shows at its San Diego theme park by 2017.

Chief executive Joel Manby cited customer feedback as the reason for the move in an announcement to investors.

Mr Manby said the park would offer a different kind of orca experience and focus on the animal's natural setting and behaviours.

The news came days after SeaWorld Entertainment reported that third-quarter earnings missed Wall Street expectations.

The Florida-based company has seen revenue drop since the release of the documentary Blackfish, which criticised its treatment of killer whales in captivity.

Mr Manby said the decision would be limited for now to its San Diego park.

"We are evolving as a company," he told investors, adding that the new killer whale attraction will "have a strong conservation message".

The Orlando, Florida-based company has seen revenue drop since the release of the documentary "Blackfish" that criticised its treatment of killer whales in captivity.

Mr Manby also indicated to investors that the company may change its plans for a 100 million dollar (£66.1m) expansion of its tanks for its killer whales, which was endorsed by the California Coastal Commission last month on the condition it agree to stop breeding orcas, among other restrictions.

SeaWorld has said it plans to challenge the ruling in court.

Mr Manby said that the company had no other choice because the ruling set a "bad precedent" for not only SeaWorld but all zoos, aquariums and other animal parks.

He added that SeaWorld may be able to achieve its objective in raising revenue without proceeding with the project, called "Blue World."

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