After Thousands of Shows, SeaWorld San Diego’s Orca Show Closes

SeaWorld had announced in March that it would stop breeding orcas and would stop making whales do tricks at its amusement parks.

After thousands of performances, SeaWorld San Diego's "One Ocean" orca show ended Sunday, closing the chapter on a decades-old practice of including killer whales as park entertainers.

Frequent SeaWorld visitor Jeff Scanlon didn't want to miss the show. 

"Hey, this is Shamu's grand finale, so we said, 'Let's go down,'" he told NBC 7. 

And fans were not disappointed. 

"It was amazing," Enery Smith said. "They did a good job for a last show."

"It was filled with heart and soul," Teresa McGuire said. 

This summer, the park will unveil a new attraction in the pool. "Orca Encounter" is being billed as an educational experience that will show how killer whales eat, communicate and navigate.

The park has 11 orcas.

"We will conduct an interim orca educational presentation in the pool that is also used for underwater viewing... while we remove the existing theatrical moving screens and show set in the stadium and replace them with a natural backdrop that will reflect the natural world of the orca," said SeaWorld San Diego spokesperson Dave Koontz.

California banned killer whale breeding in 2016, affecting the company that operates the popular marine animal theme park located just north of downtown San Diego.

SeaWorld announced in March that it was no longer breeding orcas and would stop making whales do tricks at its amusement parks.

Koontz said "Orca Encounter" show will open in summer 2017.

The new orca displays will be added to the company's other parks in Orlando and San Antonio by 2019.

SeaWorld has seen attendance fall since the documentary "Blackfish" criticized conditions of captive orcas. The film featured Tilikum, an orca that killed a trainer during an Orlando show in 2010.

Tilikum, who'd been seriously ill, died Friday in Orlando.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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