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Facing worldwide pressure and declining attendance, Sea World to upgrade killer whale habitats

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — SeaWorld is giving its killer whales a little more space.

The amusement park company said it will double the size of the animals’ habitats at its three parks. The first of the new killer whale exhibits will open to the public in San Diego in 2018.

New habitats will roll out at its other two locations in Orlando, Florida and Austin, Texas will follow at some point after that.

The move comes amid a backlash following the release of Blackfish, a documentary aired by CNN that examined SeaWorld’s treatment of the animals in a heavily critical light and questioned whether they should be held in captivity at all.

In a press release, SeaWorld said that the new enclosures, dubbed the “Blue World Project,” will add 5 million gallons to the killer whale tank create a maximum depth of 50 feet and simulate underwater currents as well.

The new exhibit will also feature a simulated shoreline.

The company also said it will donate $10 million to study the welfare of killer whales in the wild and start a yet-to-be-disclosed “multi-million partnership focused on protecting the ocean.”

Attendance at SeaWorld parks has declined since Blackfish premiered last year, and Southwest Airlines dissolved its 26-year long partnership with the company.

SeaWorld Entertainment said it expects sales to fall by as much as 7% for the year. Its shares fell by a third after the company reported its quarterly earnings Wednesday, but they’re up 3% today in early trading.

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1 Comment

  • Kristina Hard

    This is not emptying the tanks. So the fishbowl will be slightly bigger. They need to stop breeding them and start rehabilitation. This is still unacceptable.