This post has been updated.
Long before a state Assembly bill aimed to keep killer whales out of SeaWorld San Diego, observers and insiders were emphasizing just how much Shamu meant to the park’s bottom line.
Their statements reveal the extent to which SeaWorld is tethered to the orcas that perform at packed shows, adorn the merchandise that dominates its gift shops and star in its marketing efforts.
The bill aims to halt SeaWorld San Diego’s s killer whale shows and captive breeding programs. If it passes, the measure could force SeaWorld to take more of an aquarium approach with its current killer whales and over the long haul, potentially eliminate the orcas it’s long given top billing.