SeaWorld has always been and will always be a phenomenal theme park. Dedicated to research, education and rescue, the park gives visitors a glimpse into the ocean world. Not to mention, it provides the opportunity to laugh and enjoy a fun filled day.
Recently our family got the opportunity to visit SeaWorld (Orlando.) Prior to our trip I understood very little of the background and future of the Killer Whales at SeaWorld. Through various media reports my awareness boiled down to knowing the organization announced plans to end the Orca breeding program.
If you are unfamiliar with the story line, let me provide a brief explanation. Once upon a time, the owners of SeaWorld rescued killer whales in the wild and brought them to live at the various theme parks to be trained and enjoyed by audiences. Although it has been over 40 years since a captured whale relocated to a SeaWorld tank, the orca program thrives from their breeding efforts.
Earlier this year SeaWorld announced plans to end their breeding program. What exactly does this mean? It means that the current Orcas living at SeaWorld are the last generation. The last generation of Orcas at SeaWorld means that we are the last generation to have the opportunity to see them up close.
I didn’t fully understand the impact of that statement until my family sat in Shamu Stadium. As we prepared to watch the show, SeaWorld ran a short video announcing the upcoming changes to their Orca program. Within the next year, the show will be cancelled and a new habitat constructed. Until the last Orca passes away, they will continue to live in a more natural looking tank for visitors to observe. And after that, the opportunity to see an Orca up close will be gone forever.
The video was a great reminder that in a lifetime most people will never get the opportunity to see an Orca in the wild. But because of the Orca program at SeaWorld, over 400 million people have gotten the chance to learn, observe and fall in love with the beautiful creature.
Sitting in Shamu Stadium with my two kids I realized, this is a once in a lifetime moment. Opportunities are easy to take for granted. It would have been easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day.
But in that moment I urged my children to soak it all in (literally!) I pointed out that an opportunity to get splashed (or, in our case- soaked!) by an Orca was never coming around again.
It doesn’t really matter which side of the debate you stand on. The debate is over. As this generation dies, they will not be replaced. Soon the opportunity to see an Orca will be gone. Before it’s too late, go to SeaWorld. The rides at all the other theme parks will always be there. In fact, they’ll be bigger and better in a few years. But, this, this chance to see one of the most magnificent animals in the world, will be gone.
In a statement from their CEO and President, SeaWorld said ““We’ve helped make orcas among the most beloved marine mammals on the planet. As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will experience these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.”
*Mom With A Map will forever be grateful to SeaWorld for hosting us and allowing us this once in a lifetime opportunity.*