From Texas Public Radio:
Carl Lum began as SeaWorld San Antonio’s new president just weeks before the company announced it would stop breeding killer whales and end its signature Shamu orca shows, following years of public pressure and falling revenue.
“It was a very tough decision to make, but public perceptions have changed about having killer whales in theatrical shows,” says Lum. “We’ve changed, we’ve made those announcements that go with that. It’s been 8 to 1 positive in our polling where the public has perceived ‘that was a really good decision and we’re glad you’re moving that way.’”
SeaWorld San Antonio is retooling for an orca-free future with more roller coasters and a focus on conservation. Lum says more educational programs will replace Hollywood-style orca shows in the next three years. A fourth roller coaster is in development.
“Starting in spring, we’re going to open Wave Breaker, which is a coaster,” says Lum. “But as part of the ride on the coaster, it tells the story to the guest about our sea rescue brand.”
Lum says the new SeaWorld will tell guests more about the company’s efforts to protect animals in the wild. And the park will continue to expand experiences that have nothing to do with marine mammals—like Halloween and Christmas programming. But as long as captive killer whales are on display at the park, pressure from animal rights group isn’t going away.
“The scariest thing this Halloween at Sea World is their cruel treatment of orcas,” says Matt Bruce, a campaigner with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—standing beside 38 cardboard tombstones just outside of the SeaWorld San Antonio entrance.