The company's decision not to appeal the orca ruling to the
Since the ruling, the park has "made significant safety improvements" in trainer safety, SeaWorld said in a statement.
In April, by a vote of 2 to 1, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in
SeaWorld had argued that proximity of the trainers to the killer whales was central to the appeal of the orca shows and without that proximity the shows would lose popularity.
But the court majority concluded it is too dangerous for orcas to be closely interacting with trainers. Safety measures taken after the death of trainer
Last week, SeaWorld San Diego announced plans to nearly double the size of its orca environment. It also promised to contribute an additional $10 million to research on the species and to establish an independent advisory committee of scientists to oversee its orca program.
The new space, described as the first of its kind, is slated to be completed by 2018, officials said. SeaWorld parks at Orlando and San Antonio, Texas, will follow with similar orca projects, officials said.
SeaWorld San Diego has 10 orcas. The orca show at Shamu Stadium has long been the marquee attraction.
Battered by bad publicity from the documentary "Blackfish," which asserts that SeaWorld mistreats its orcas, the company's earnings and stock price have taken a beating.
It was announced last week that shares of
The Orlando, Fla.-based company conceded for the first time that attendance at its theme parks has been hurt by negative publicity caused by a drumbeat from animal activists about the alleged maltreatment of the orcas.