SeaWorld Orlando to end current killer-whale show next week

Attraction will be replaced by educational experience

New Year’s Eve will be the final day of the “One Ocean” killer whale show at SeaWorld Orlando in Shamu Stadium.

ORLANDO, Fla. – New Year’s Eve will be the final day of the “One Ocean” killer whale show at SeaWorld Orlando in Shamu Stadium as the theme park plans to replace it with an educational experience about Orcas.

The “One Ocean” show featuring Orca performances will be replaced by an educational attraction called “Orca Encounter," according to theme park officials.

The Orlando Sentinel was the first to report the changeup.

A SeaWorld spokeswoman said the educational experience will open in Orlando on New Year’s Day.

“SeaWorld is excited about our new Killer Whale educational presentation, Orca Encounter. Guests will learn about killer whales’ role in the ocean ecosystem, behaviors the animals exhibit in the wild, the importance of conservation to their habitat, and animal welfare practices at SeaWorld," SeaWorld Chief Zoological Officer Dr. Chris Dold said. "This educational presentation reflects our company’s mission to inspire people and protect the animals and wild wonders of our world through education, research, animal rescue and conservation.”

“One Ocean” debuted in 2011, replacing “Believe," a show that ran for five years at all three SeaWorld parks in the U.S. The show was created following the Feb. 24, 2010 death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was drowned by a whale at the park.

SeaWorld San Diego opened “Orca Encounter” in 2017.

According to SeaWorld’s San Diego’s website, guests can “see killer whales in the first experience of its kind. Dive deeper into the orcas masterful hunting techniques and complex communication codes. Learn about the role of family, the importance of play and what we learn from the whales in our care every day is actively helping whales in the wild survive. Witness natural orca behaviors while an expansive infinity screen brings their story to life. Leave with a deeper connection to one of the sea’s mightiest, most magnificent animals.”

In 2016, SeaWorld announced it would end its killer whale breeding program. The last orca calf born at one of the theme parks was in spring 2017 to 25-year-old orca Takara at SeaWorld San Antonio. Takara was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced that it was ending its orca breeding program. The gestation period for orcas is approximately 18 months.

PETA issued a statement after the announcement:

“As long as orcas are still trapped in cramped tanks and trainers are still using dolphins as surfboards in circus-style shows, marine mammals at SeaWorld will continue to suffer. PETA is urging SeaWorld to make an actual difference in these animals’ lives by releasing them into seaside sanctuaries, where they’d feel ocean currents, make their own choices, and never be used to sell theme-park tickets again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.