To Appear Less Heartless, SeaWorld Is Building Bigger Bathtubs for Its Killer Whales

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 15 2014 12:01 PM

To Appear Less Heartless, SeaWorld Is Building Bigger Bathtubs for Its Killer Whales

51843296GI002_whale
Killer whales at SeaWorld will be getting fancier prison cells.

Photo by SeaWorld via Getty Images

SeaWorld Entertainment has finally acknowledged that public revulsion over the company’s treatment of its killer whales is hurting business—and a few oh-so-lucky cetaceans will get to enjoy their very own “water treadmill” as a result. On Wednesday, SeaWorld’s stock price crashed by about a third after management delivered an earnings report chock full of dismal revenue and attendance figures. Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, SeaWorld is responding by announcing plans to spruce up its orca habitats. They will now have bigger, fancier swimming pools to call home:

The company plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, beginning with the San Diego location. The new enclosure in San Diego will be almost double the size of the current one, holding about 10 million gallons of water and extending to a depth of 50 feet. The company wouldn't specify the cost of the upgrades, only saying it would be several hundred million dollars.          
Advertisement

And about that new exercise equipment:

The San Diego facility will include a "water treadmill" system letting the whales swim against a stream of moving water, allowing them more exercise but also opening the door to new research into how the animals burn energy. The system will be the first of its kind in the world, the company says.

More exercise will be nice. None of this addresses the fundamental issue: that these are massive, highly social mammals, who normally travel upwards of 100 miles in a day, and who are being kept in captivity in order to do tricks for tourists. A bigger bathtub prison is still a bathtub prison.  

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s  Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 11:13 AM Your Own Personal Rand Paul How the libertarian hero makes his foreign policy contradictions disappear.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 22 2014 11:42 AM In Defense of HR Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 12:00 PM Dear Prudence Live Chat For September 22, 2014.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Robot Plants Are the Latest in a Long Line of Robot Thingies
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide… on Mercury
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.