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SeaWorld ending orca breeding

Park also announces partnership with Humane Society

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ORLANDO – SeaWorld is ending its orca breeding program. Thursday morning, SeaWorld announced the killer whales currently in its care will be the last generation of orcas there.

The current orcas will live at SeaWorld until they die. SeaWorld says those whales will still receive the highest-quality care available to them.

In a statement, SeaWorld says it will no longer collect marine mammals from the wild. The orcas currently in captivity have been born there or have spent their entire life in human care.

The current orcas will not be released into the ocean or confined in sea cages. SeaWorld officials say those animals could not survive in oceans because they will be exposed to unfamiliar conditions. Those include pollution, disease and other man-made threats.

SeaWorld's treatment of the animal has been a point of controversy, ever since the debut of the documentary Blackfish. Since the film premiered, the park has seen attendance plummet.

The park will also do away with theatrical orca shows, instead using a more "natural" show. The tanks and exhibits will be redesigned. Those shows will begin in Orlando in 2019, but will start at the other SeaWorld locations starting next year.

SeaWorld also announced it is partnering with the Humane Society of the US. The two will work together on conservation efforts and more to help marine life around the world.