In response to the public pressure that has decreased its attendance and finances due to awareness of how its orcas are treated, SeaWorld has announced that it will “upgrade” its facilities for its killer whales. Larger tanks will be built along with “water treadmill” systems to give them exercise.
According to a Wall Street Journal article published today, SeaWorld is spending millions to build the new enclosures – beginning in San Diego:
The company plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, beginning with the San Diego location. The new enclosure in San Diego will be almost double the size of the current one, holding about 10 million gallons of water and extending to a depth of 50 feet. The company wouldn’t specify the cost of the upgrades, only saying it would be several hundred million dollars.
Our lucky San Diego orcas will now have new exercise equipment, again, according to the WSJ:
The San Diego facility will include a “water treadmill” system letting the whales swim against a stream of moving water, allowing them more exercise but also opening the door to new research into how the animals burn energy. The system will be the first of its kind in the world, the company says.
First of its kind! Wowwee!
As Jordan Weissmann at Slate states:
More exercise will be nice. None of this addresses the fundamental issue: that these are massive, highly social mammals, who normally travel upwards of 100 miles in a day, and who are being kept in captivity in order to do tricks for tourists. A bigger bathtub prison is still a bathtub prison.
It’s clear that the protests and demonstrations have deeply affected the San Diego and American public over what SeaWorld is doing and not doing for and to its killer whales. The theme park monster corporation (11 parks in US and plans for more in Middle East) – instead of responding directly to the criticism – will be spending its millions on “easing” the public’s conscience with its larger tanks, and will keep on showering tourists with water sprayed from its orcas doing tricks for a bit of mackerel.