SAN ANTONIO – Despite the news that SeaWorld parks across the country will end the breeding of killer whales, the park’s most famous attraction, the new president of the local park said the future looks bright.
“We have a lot of new guest experiences coming online and I feel pretty good about that," said SeaWorld San Antonio President Carl Lum, who took over park leadership six weeks ago.
Lum said the five killer whales that are currently at the park will remain there, meaning there will be orcas at the park for an estimated 30 to 40 years more.
Lum said the parks listened after a whale trainer died in Florida in 2010 and following backlash from the documentary "Blackfish," which was heavily critical of the way SeaWorld whales are treated.
"There's a lot of inaccuracies and things that are not correct in that movie. But by the nature of the fact that we did have a trainer death, it ended up changing some public opinion,” Lum said. “And we had to listen to those changes of public opinion.”
Community engagement is crucial for Lum.
In a first for SeaWorld San Antonio, Lum recently held a town hall for pass holders to answer questions that much of the community has about how killer whale shows will change in the future.
"Less Hollywood-ish, if you will, and more simulating the natural environment that they might be in,” Lum said. “But, still, we can do that by making it exciting and interesting but also making it educational.”
The new shows will begin in 2018 or 2019.
SeaWorld San Diego is leading the design the new show format, which has not been completed.
Lum said the local park is also focusing more on telling guests about its conservation efforts and animal rescue work.
"I think you'll see a more balanced look to the product. A little less killer whale-centric. But a good balance between, animals, shows and attractions,” he said.
The park’s newest attraction, Discovery Point, offers guests an opportunity to swim with dolphins and includes a remodeled shark aquarium.
Discovery Point opens May 21.