Isn't it nice when nature gets back to being nature?
And so it is with the announcement that SeaWorld, the company with 11 theme parks, will end its captive-breeding programs for orca whales.
A controversial program for many years, the theme-park operator has raised killer whales in captivity to use in its shows. Twenty-nine whales orcas or "killer whales" are currently used by the company in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; and in the park's international location in Loro Parque, Spain.
In the past three years, SeaWorld has received further criticism after the documentary "Blackfish" was released. The film focused on the lives of the contained animals and the inherent dangers to their handlers.
Theme park criticized
SeaWorld has repeatedly defended its position with positive-focused videos and television commercials detailing the animals' care from park staff, including veterinarians. Animal rights groups chastised the company's business model and called for more human practices.
The theme park's overall attendance has declined in recently. The company's former executive officer resigned in 2014. As a result of additional pressure, the company's San Diego location stopped its killer whale show last year.
SeaWorld's announcement was primarily met with optimism. The Humane Society of the United States said it was "pleased." The Animal Welfare Institute said the announcement was an "important first step."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wasn't satisfied. It wants SeaWorld to release its current captive whales, an action SeaWorld said it wouldn't take because it would threaten the animals' safety.
Nature is best home for whales
Animal experts should make that decision. If it means the current whales in captivity remain so for the rest of their lives instead of a greater chance of not surviving in the ocean, then maybe it's best.
If it means the current 29 orcas currently in the theme park's system are the last activists say live in "prison tanks," then the bigger picture, the permanent picture, is to be celebrated. It's no longer allowed.