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A year after scathing documentary, SeaWorld promises change to whale tanks

SeaWorld will build bigger and better environments for killer whales, the star attraction of the marine amusement park chain, the company said Friday. SeaWorld asserts the changes have nothing to do with animal cruelty allegations made by 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”

The Florida-based SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., claims that within four years the San Diego park will have doubled the size of its current tank. It will be enhanced to also include a “fast water current,” simulating a more natural environment. Adjustments at their other locations, namely Orlando and San Antonio, will come later.

“Blackfish” suggests that SeaWorld’s facilities and showcase program make killer whales unpredictably violent, and seeks to explain the death of multiple trainers.

The bad publicity led to proposed legislation in California that would ban the whales’ being used in commercial entertainment. It also brought about a dissolve in SeaWorld’s 26-year partnership with Southwest airlines, finalized in July, which stemmed from a 30,000-signature petition.

The Company has also pledged $10 million in research funds, vowing to focus on their threat status in the wild. Former trainer Mark Simmons lauded the move, claiming “I think it’s an enhancement, an obvious evolution of SeaWorld’s mission.”

SeaWorld Entertainment, which went public in 2012, announced a 33 percent plunge in the value of its shares on Wednesday.