PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protester signs read, “A bigger prison is still a prison,” “Boycott Seaworld,” “Seaworld: Don’t Renovate! Release!” and “Seaworld Exposed, Watch Blackfish,” as shown in a San Diego Channel 6 News broadcast.
SeaWorld presented project details for expanding the park’s orca habitat at a public meeting Tuesday with San Diego’s park and recreation board, drawing media and attention from animal rights protesters.
The presentation followed a Friday announcement that orca habitats at all three of the organization’s parks will nearly double, and Sea Lion and dolphin exhibits in San Antonio will be upgraded, as $10 million in orca research funding is added.
San Diego’s SeaWorld park was host to the announcement of the organization’s massive “Blue World Project” habitat expansion last August. The San Diego whale habitat is planned to stretch over nearly 1.5 acres, hold 10.5 million gallons of water and plunge to a depth of 50 feet with features including a fast current “whale treadmill.”
A SeaWorld Entertainment release stated, “As part of its vision for the future, the company also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.”
Outgoing SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Jim Atchison and West Side park President Dan Decker said Friday the changes are not in response to the controversial 2013 Blackfish documentary or subsequent criticism of the company and its parks, ABC 10 News reports. Atchison and Decker stated plans have been in the works for years.