SeaWorld ending killer whale breeding program

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2006, file photo, a young girl watches through the glass as a killer whale passes by while swimming in a display tank at SeaWorld, in San Diego. SeaWorld wants to greatly expand the tanks it uses to hold killer whales in San Diego but animal rights activists are opposed, saying breeding the animals in captivity is cruel no matter the size of the tanks. A state agency is expected to consider Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, how much regulators should weigh in on the $100 million proposal for the marine-theme park. (AP Photo/Chris Park, File)

MIAMI (AP) – SeaWorld is ending its practice of killer whale breeding following years of controversy over keeping orcas in captivity.

The company announced Thursday morning the breeding program will end immediately. The company also announced a partnership with the Humane Society.

The company will also end theatrical shows and introduce “new, inspiring natural orca encounters.” The new shows will begin next year at the SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s San Diego park.

SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby said in a statement that the company introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas and is proud of its part in contributing to the human understanding of the whales.

He says the company is “reimagining” how guests will encounter orcas while providing visitors to the theme parks with “experiences that matter.”

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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