During a meeting last night filled with more than 500 people, the The California Coastal Commission approved a $100 million expansion of the existing SeaWorld San Diego killer whale enclosure, also known as Blue World Project.
The California Coastal Commission also announced that they are banning the breeding of killer whales in captivity.
This last minute amendment would prevent SeaWorld San Diego from breeding of captive orcas, including through artificial insemination. This would only affect SeaWorld San Diego, and not the other two SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio.
“We care for these animals as if they were family,” SeaWorld veterinarian Hendrik Nollens told the panel. “We have nothing but the whales’ best interest at heart.”
SeaWorld issued a statement on the announcement of the ban and said “Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane.”
Animal rights activists claim that the new tanks would only lead to even more killer whales in captivity.
If built, Blue World Project would expand the area for the killer whales into a new 5.2-million gallon tank and 450,000-gallon pool, compared to the old 1.7-million gallon pool that opened in 1995.
SeaWorld is considering their options after the meeting and it is unclear if the park will take legal action on the ban of breeding.
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby is planning on announcing a new direction for the company on Nov. 6.