The animal theme park SeaWorld San Diego is permanently ending its long-running killer-whale show One Ocean, with the orcas giving their final spins and jumps from the Shamu Stadium pool this afternoon. In its place, the park will debut a new Orca Encounter attraction this summer, which it describes as an “educational presentation” that eschews theatrics in favor of education about the hunting, eating, and communicating patterns of orcas. However, the attraction will still involve orcas in some capacity, with the animals receiving simple and “natural” cues from their trainers. “You will still see a whale leaping out of the water,” Al Garver, a forma orca trainer and vice-president of zoological operations, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We want to be able to demonstrate behaviors people would see in the wild with the killer whales and their abilities as a top predator in the sea. The vast majority of behaviors people have seen in our shows will be very suitable for demonstrating that.”
The news follows the recent revelation that Tilikum, the orca whose captivity was the subject of the 2010 documentary Blackfish, died at the estimated age of 36. Beyond San Diego, both SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio have promised to end their orca shows by 2019. Following Tilikum’s death, SeaWorld says it now has 22 orcas in captivity.