SeaWorld called accusations it bred “Jurassic World”-style orcas a wild fish tale, according to reports.
The denial follows claims from former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove the theme park mated subspecies of killer whales that would never meet in the wild in its since-shuttered breeding program, he told The Sun.
Hargrove spent 20 years working at SeaWorld and played a prominent role in he 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which explored a series of deaths caused by Tilikum — one of the park’s most famed captive orca.
He told the newspaper that it was like “Jurassic World,” a reference to this summer’s blockbuster film featuring “hybrid dinosaurs.”
“That is exactly what we did at SeaWorld,” Hargrove said. “[…]The main takeaway with creating a hybrid orca is that you truly have no idea what you’ve created because they don’t exist in nature. So all things are possible,” he told the paper.
He said the plan to create super-sized whales was hatched in an effort to boost attendance at its theme parks.
SeaWorld denied Hargrove’s claims.
“There is nothing new in these claims. The wild characterizations from this former employee – who has not worked at SeaWorld in any capacity for 10 years – are designed to get clicks, not communicate facts or science,” a SeaWorld rep told Newsweek.
The theme park ended its orca breeding program in March 2016.
“SeaWorld is independently accredited, reviewed, and certified by both federal wildlife agencies and independent third-party experts to uphold the highest standards of animal care,” the rep said. “Much of what the world knows about killer whales today is because of what has been learned through nearly 60 years of care and study of orcas in accredited zoological facilities such as SeaWorld. “
The company did not return requests for comment to The Post.
SeaWorld’s captive killer whales have been a controversial topic among animal rights activists for years. At SeaWorld, the orcas performed in theatrical shows until 2017.
Four people have been killed by whales at the park. Tilikum, who lived at SeaWorld’s Orlando-based park, was responsible for three of them.
In “Blackfish,” Hargrove and other former trainers spoke out about how captive orcas suffer psychological damage and trauma, leading to aggression. An outspoken advocate, Hargrove also wrote a book called “Beneath the Surface,” which detailed his time at the park and how he believed it was unsafe it was to keep the whales in captivity.
SeaWorld has previously denied Hargrove’s claims, adding that in 2015, the trainer left his job after he was disciplined for a safety violation.
Meanwhile, animal welfare groups continue to scrutinize SeaWorld and other places that keep orcas in captivity.