Faced with declining attendance and a plunging stock price, SeaWorld announced today that it will build new, larger environments for killer whales at its theme parks. SeaWorld also says it will contribute &10 million to fund additional research on the animals along with programs to protect ocean health and whales in the wild.
SeaWorld plans to build a 10-million-gallon tank at its park in San Diego. That’s almost twice the size of the current tank. The company has similar plans for its parks in Orlando and San Antonio.
SeaWorld has taken a major financial hit amid negative publicity over its treatment of killer whales. The company’s stock price plunged 33 percent Wednesday when earnings failed to meet Wall Street expectations. SeaWorld admits attendance has been lagging, in part because of the influence of the documentary film “Blackfish.”
SeaWorld says the new tanks will be more stimulating for its captive orcas, including 10 animals in San Diego. But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is unimpressed. The animal rights group calls today’s announcement “a drop in the bucket move to try to turn back the hands of time.”
Read More: The PBS program Frontline has done extensive coverage on the debate over keeping orcas in captivity.