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SeaWorld Plans To Expand Whale Exhibit

Updated: Tuesday, August 19 2014, 03:26 PM CDT
(CBS)- SeaWorld is planning to expand its killer whale exhibits in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio, to create the world's largest underwater viewing experience of orcas.

The park says its expansion will offer visitors one-of-a-kind experience, but the announcement follows a highly critical documentary and protests of the park's practices.
SeaWorld executives unveiled plans to expand their Killer Whale Exhibits at three of their parks, beginning with San Diego.

The tank there would nearly double in size to 10 million gallons, and offer park goers underwater views that stretch 4 stories high.

SeaWorld says the fast flowing water inside will create a treadmill for the whales.

"We're going to move large volumes of water. This creates an endless pool.  So it will functionally enlarge the space," said Dr. Christopher Dold the Vice President of Veterinary Services at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
"The expansion is a huge concern because where they are spending millions of dollars to build slightly bigger prisons, they should be spending that money building seaside sanctuaries," said Lisa Lange. Lange is the Senior Vice President of Communications for PETA.  "These new tanks that they are proposing are only going to be 50 feet deep, they are only 350 feet long, and this is for an animal that will dive 1,000 feet down in the ocean, they will swim up to 100 miles a day. So this is no improvement.
SeaWorld's multi-million dollar investment comes in the wake of criticism of the park, including the 2013 documentary "Blackfish."  The film made waves after suggesting that the park's confinement of orcas provoked violent behavior that led to the deaths and injuries of several SeaWorld trainers.

Executives say their critics are misinformed and argue their expansion will help their killer whales thrive.

The new exhibit in San Diego is expected to be open to the public by 2018, with similiar expansions to follow in Orlando and San Antonio.

As part of the announcement, SeaWorld says it will also pledge $10 million to research projects related to the conservation of killer whales. SeaWorld Plans To Expand Whale Exhibit

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