After years of public outrage, the disturbing exposé Black Fish and fading business fortunes, SeaWorld is to end its use of killer whales in shows in San Diego.
But new California regulations also played a big part in the decision, and it appears the circus will go on at locations in Texas and Florida.
Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said he plans to introduce federal legislation that would prohibit the breeding of captive orcas, end the capture of wild orcas and stop the import and export of the killer whales.
For now, the tank enlargement initiative in San Diego will be on hold, Manby said.
"We know, with the regulatory environment out there with orcas and what's happened in California with the reputation, we'd be foolish if we didn't look at options," Manby said. "…We're not comfortable putting $100 million into a market when there are regulatory questions. Until that whole issue settles, then we'll make a decision at that time."
The move away from performances featuring killer whales, though, is not likely to silence its critics who still want to see the end of captive breeding.
"Today's acknowledgement by SeaWorld does not end our push to halt inhumane orca captivity and breeding practices, but it's a step in the right direction," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. "More importantly, SeaWorld's announcement contradicts their earlier statements that the company could not be profitable unless orcas were forced to participate in these circus-like shows…Clearly, SeaWorld can move away from being a giant circus that harms animal life and still have a viable business model."