For some reason it's taken an inordinate amount of time for SeaWorld to finally come to terms with the fact that six-ton animals don't enjoy being confined to small boxes and made to perform tricks for hundreds of screaming people every day. This week SeaWorld announced its plans to finally end the orca program at its San Diego theme park amid pressure on both state and federal levels, in addition to ongoing protests.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports SeaWorld will begin phasing out the program in 2016. In its place the park will launch its new "informative" killer whale program, which will ironically focus on a "conservation message inspiring people to act." The move comes after a former employee and trainer John Hargrove blew the whistle on the park's animal cruelty in the CNN documentary Blackfish that has subsequently cost the park millions. There's no word yet on whether the park will also end its programs at its Orlando and San Antonio locations.

If imagining spending the entirety of your life in a confined space and forced to perform tricks for food doesn't sound awful enough, the natural lifespan of an orca is 50 to 80 years (sometimes longer). However, a bummer study published by the Marine Mammal Science journal earlier this year found that the median survival estimate for captive orcas is just over 6 years.

But before you go congratulating the whale slave park, SeaWorld CEO and class act, Joel Manby was quoted by the Guardian saying, "People love companies that have a purpose, even for-profit companies. Just look at WholeFoods… I don’t see any reason why SeaWorld can’t be one of those brands." 

Here's to a whole new "informative" SeaWorld in 2017.