As Olivia Wilde’s Brit declared on Portlandia, “Whales: They’re the worst!“ Well, even though they were sort of missing the point, the ecoterrorists can relax: According to The Hollywood Reporter, SeaWorld is set to stop breeding killer whales. THR spoke with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite about the announcement; her documentary came out in 2013 and followed the story of an orca named Tilikum, who killed orca trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, exposing the lethal side effects of keeping orcas in captivity and outwardly condemning SeaWorld’s practices.
Cowperthwaite emphasized that this is just one step toward change. “Of course we want more because change should always be dynamic,” Cowperthwaite tells THR. “But breeding, expanding killer whales into international markets, all these missives once sat at the center of their business model. And they’re willing to stop these practices immediately.” Last year, SeaWorld announced that it was ending its orca shows, but the breeding issue was much more urgent for Cowperthwaite. She described the latest announcement as “paradigm shifting.”
President and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., Joel Manby, has also commented on the company’s decision to end its orca breeding program, saying: “SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals.” He added: “As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.” It’s the biggest win to date for Blackfish.