SeaWorld park to redesign controversial whale tank

Trainers work with killer whales during the Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park March 7, 2011 The new tanks will be twice the size as the current ones, which animal rights groups say are too small

Related Stories

US marine theme park SeaWorld has announced it is to build a bigger tank for its killer whales, amid criticism of its treatment of the animals.

But the Florida company said that the plans were not in response to last year's documentary film "Blackfish".

The film suggested that captivity and SeaWorld's treatment provoked violent behaviour in the killer whales.

The high profile death of a trainer in front of a live audience in 2010 sparked worldwide outrage.

SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchinson said in a statement on Friday that the new tank, to be completed by 2018, would "transform how visitors experience killer whales".

Killer whales swim in tanks at the SeaWorld park in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 The 2013 film 'Blackfish' argued that whales in captivity become traumatised and turn violent

"Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a bird's eye view from above."

The new tank will be almost twice the size of its current orca tank, with 10 million gallons of water and a new depth of 50 feet (15m), and will include larger viewing points for visitors.

But Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) criticised the plans, calling them a "desperate move".

"A bigger prison is still a prison," it said in a statement.

The animal rights group warned that nothing but moving the orcas to seaside sanctuaries to feel and experience the ocean again and hear their families would "save the company", which has seen its profits slump in the past year since it went public.

 Dawn Brancheau, a whale trainer at SeaWorld Adventure Park, poses while performing 30/12/2005 Dawn Brancheau was killed by the whale 'Tilikum', whilst performing in a show at SeaWorld in 2010

Peta filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld in 2012 and named five killer whales as plaintiffs, arguing that they deserved the same constitutional protection from slavery as humans.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, who had more than 16 years of experience in killer whale shows was killed whilst performing with "Tilikum".

She died from drowning and traumatic injuries after the whale bit and dragged her underwater in front of an audience.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.