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
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,
“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.