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After stock hit, SeaWorld announces new orca environment

Following protests, SeaWorld said it will build new killer whale environments at its marine parks.
SeaWorld Entertainment
Following protests, SeaWorld said it will build new killer whale environments at its marine parks.

SeaWorld Entertainment on Friday announced a new 10-million gallon killer whale environment in San Diego, nearly double the size of the existing facility. Similar environments are planned for SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio, the company said.

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The company's stock plummeted 33 percent Wednesday when it reported weak second quarter earnings, resulting in a 22-percent drop over the last year. SeaWorld's public image was hurt by the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which examines the psychological effects of captivity on killer whales, specifically surrounding the deaths of three trainers working with an orca named Tilikum.

Following the protests, Southwest Airlines last month announced it would end its 26-years marketing partnership with SeaWorld, which included Shamu and penguin livery on three of its planes.

The site plan for SeaWorld’s new killer whale environment.
SeaWorld Entertainment
The site plan for SeaWorld’s new killer whale environment.

The new facility measures 350 feet across and 50 feet deep, a size that SeaWorld says will "support the whales' broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge the whales both physically and mentally." SeaWorld also pledged $10 million in matching funds for orca research.

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By Keith Wagstaff, NBC News

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