SeaWorld describes upcoming orca exhibit as 'live documentary'

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SeaWorld has revealed details about its revised orca program, Orca Encounter, scheduled to debut next summer at SeaWorld San Diego, followed by the parks in Orlando and San Antonio.

Rather than a choreographed show, SeaWorld says the new exhibit will be a “live documentary,” offering an educational experience for guests and focused on the enrichment and general health of the whales themselves.

The content will highlight orcas’ lives in the wild — how they communicate, navigate and hunt in the ocean — as well as tackling subjects like research, habitat and conservation.

“The new behavioral-based orca experience will inspire as well as educate guests about the majesty of these complex animals, and reinforces the company’s commitment to provide educational experiences with the park’s resident orcas,” SeaWorld said via press release.

The changes come as part of a $175 million capital spending investment, which will also bring new rides and attractions to all three SeaWorld theme parks as well as Busch Gardens parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va.

“In developing new experiences we want guests to have fun, but also be inspired, and our parks are uniquely suited to create meaningful and fun vacations,” said SeaWorld Entertainment President and CEO Joel Manby in a statement. “We want our guests to share experiences that matter, and our 2017 additions truly reinforce that mission.”

Last March, SeaWorld said that it would end its orca breeding program and close its orca shows in response to an enduring backlash prompted by the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”

In place of the theatrical performances, Sea World said it would use the animals — which will live out the rest of their natural lives at the parks — in exhibits focused on behavior in the wild and orca conservation. 

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