As public pressure continues to increase on SeaWorld in the wake of the Blackfish documentary, the marine park finally appears to have acted and changed its policy.
This week, SeaWorld have officially announced they won’t be accepting the whales at the centre of a legal controversy.
18 Beluga whales were captured in Russia several years ago and SeaWorld competitors Georgia Aquarium are hoping to bring the animals to their tanks. However, the process has been mired with legal setbacks and the company have been trying to appeal the decision which denied their request to import the whales.
Taking a different tack, Seaworld – who would have received some of the whales as part of a breeding agreement – have now confirmed that they will no longer be accepting the belugas, citing “an evolution” in the company’s position.
In an official statement published online, SeaWorld said:
SeaWorld has informed the Georgia Aquarium that we will not accept any of the belugas listed on their NOAA Fisheries import permit application. The Marine Mammal Protection Act supports the collection and importation of animals for public display in accredited zoological facilities, and SeaWorld’s decision on this matter does not in any way reflect judgment on those facilities leading or participating in this beluga whale conservation effort. Rather, it reflects an evolution in SeaWorld’s position since this project began more than eight years ago.
2013 documentary film Blackfish focused on an orca held by SeaWorld and analysed the controversy over captive killer whales.
Since the film’s release, business at SeaWorld has taken a significant hit and many believe that this latest move is less about a company change of heart and more to do with them wishing to avoid further bad publicity and backlash.
Whatever the reason behind the decision though, I’m sure most of us will agree that it is a step in the right direction for animal rights.