China Is Starting A Controversial Orca Breeding Program

China Is Starting A Controversial Orca Breeding Program
However, other countries and SeaWorld seem to be phasing out their orca programs at parks.

China opened a new animal breeding program, and animal rights activists aren't into it.

Chimelong Group — one of China's leading tourist and amusement park operators — will start breeding orca whales in captivity.

Chimelong says it wants to "enhance public awareness" about killer whales, but it hasn't said if the sea creatures will do tricks.

The opening comes as other countries have prohibited keeping orcas in captivity. And last year, SeaWorld said its parks are phasing out killer whale performances.

Those SeaWorld shows will be replaced by an educational program called "Orca Encounter," but that's also been criticized because it still keeps the whales in captivity.

Orcas in captivity typically have shorter lifespans than those in the wild, so critics fear for the well-being of the killer whales in the Chinese park.

China doesn't have an animal welfare law, and animal rights activists are becoming more vocal. Last year, the "world's saddest polar bear" was temporarily moved from a small enclosure in a mall after some noted the poor living conditions.

Animal rights activist say the bear had been showing "classic signs of mental distress" before it was moved.

On the other hand, China's giant panda breeding program is pretty well-known, and it does a lot of good for the animal's dwindling population.

China's new orca park is open, and nine whales live in the enclosure.