On January 1, 2017, SeaWorld officially ended its long running dolphin show Azul. Azul told the story of a lost tourist that was taken in by a mythical land ruled by a princess, which was plagued by war. He witnessed the magic of the kingdom, the fall of the rulers, the death of the princess, the resistance of her followers, and the rebirth of the princess as a bird. (Yes, that is according to the official script) The show featured pacific white sided dolphins (lags), beluga whales, different species of macaws, divers, and acrobats.
It was not officially announced, as it was an in-company reveal. Reasons for the show ending have been varied and confused. One theory is that the acrobat’s company’s contract with SeaWorld ended, causing the employees to disband and find new opportunities. Another theory is that this is the first step SeaWorld San Antonio is taking toward an all educational series of shows.
*Edit* The official reason for the ending of the show has been confirmed to be budget cuts
Fans have cried outrage, though they don’t realize these theatrical shows started at SeaWorld just over 10 years ago. Before that, the shows were educational presentations that showcased the animals performing natural behaviors alongside their trainers.
The last show was actually the Christmas performance of Azul, called “A Dolphin Christmas.” It featured not one, but 2 lost tourists as a duo, the main performer and his understudy. As opposed to the normal 2 belugas in the beginning intro, there were 3 belugas guided by the senior trainers. In addition, the brought out all 6 lags, including Betty, the oldest lag in human care in America. The performance was met with a round of standing ovation, and even trainers from the other stadiums came to attend the one last show.
The show will be replaced with the educational show “Ocean Discovery.” The show does have trainers doing water work in it, as well as in audience participation. A child is chosen from the audience to meet one of the lags, as well as feed them and ask them for behaviors. “Ocean Discovery” is the 3rd highest rated show in the park, behind One Ocean and Azul. SeaWorld San Antonio reopens February 25 for the 2017 season.