(NBC NEWS) SeaWorld announced Thursday it will end its killer whale breeding programs and take a "new direction" amid changing social attitudes.
The company said the 24 orcas it currently has in three parks would be SeaWorld's last generation, a long awaited move following intense criticism from animal-rights campaigners over keeping the whales in captivity.
"SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing," the company said in a statement. "Society is changing and we're changing with it. SeaWorld is finding new ways to continue to deliver on our purpose to inspire all our guests to take action to protect wild animals and wild places."
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