Hundreds of people flocked to SeaWorld for Memorial Day weekend to check out the park's newest attraction, Orca Encounter. But not everyone is welcoming the changes.
A silent protest held this Memorial Day morning, with a loud message.
"If we don't speak out, no one else will," said Ashley Froud, who instead of barbecuing with friends, dedicated her time to a cause she believes in.
"It's not that we don't have jobs, it's not that this is a phase, we want to be here. We want to be defending the animals.," she said.
Froud, like dozens of others joining her, protested outside of SeaWorld as they demanded change.
"No animal belongs in a tank in captivity," said animal rights activist, Ellen Ericksen.
Ericksen organizes a protest in front of the park every major holiday. She said the new orca show is no different than the previous.
"The orcas are still being led and commanded by all the trainers," said Ericksen.
SeaWorld released this statement to 10News:
The truth is that our animals, including our orcas, live happy and healthy lives, and thrive in our care. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, SeaWorld is “meeting or exceeding the highest standard of animal care and welfare of any zoological organization in the world.” While only a few dozen people protested near the park today, more than 50,000 people will have visited SeaWorld San Diego over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, each being inspired and educated by our animals, and our new Orca Encounter and Ocean Explorer. SeaWorld is the nation’s true animal welfare organization, and the real advocates for animals are our trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff and veterinarians. We will continue to focus our resources on real issues that help far more animals, like working with Humane Society of the United States to fight commercial whaling, shark finning, and continuing our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and sick animals to the wild. So far this year, we have come to the aid of more than 475 marine mammals and birds, giving them a second chance at life.
Theme park officials also told 10News that the biggest change in their orca show is the theatrics.
Behaviors are the same and in addition to playing music, they have added an educational soundtrack.
Protesters are asking the animals be rehabilitated and released back into the ocean.
"Imagine if you were taken away from your family and put into this unnatural habitat. How would you feel?" said Froud.