SeaWorld faces a whale of a setback due to breeding ban

October 9, 2015, 2:26 PM UTC
Some aquariums scaling back amid controversy
SeaWorld is heavily emphasizing conservation amid controversy over its killer whales, and it is not alone. Some aquariums around North America have begun scaling back marine mammal programs - including shows and breeding - amid controversy over keeping these animals captive. (George Skene/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Photograph by Orlando Sentinel MCT — Getty Images

SeaWorld has been delivered yet another setback in its killer whale saga after an all-day meeting by a California panel.

Although the California Coastal Commission recently approved the company’s request for a $100 million tank expansion at its San Diego location, the organization has also instituted a breeding ban.

“A ban on breeding would sentence these animals to a slow extinction in our care,” said John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego.

“We are disappointed with the conditions that the California Coastal Commission placed on their approval of the Blue World Project and will carefully review and consider our options,” the park said in a statement. “Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life, and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane.”

According to the LA Times:

The commission’s vote allows SeaWorld to replace an existing 1.7-million-gallon holding facility with a new 450,000-gallon pool and a 5.2-million-gallon tank. But the amendment by [Commissioner Dayna] Bochco essentially means the park cannot breed new whales and would likely limit the transfer of new whales.

The park has suffered about two years of trying times after the documentary “Blackfish” aired, which accused the park of mistreating its killer whales. SeaWorld has seen attendance drop 12% to around 3.8 million, according to the LA Times.

However, attendance was reportedly up in the last quarter, according to Fortune report in May.