What really happened when they closed Marineland?
Marineland of the Pacific, which opened in 1954, for many years provided the primary tourist attraction in Rancho Palos Verdes. The attractions of Marineland included the 320-foot Skytower soaring into the blue ocean-side sky at the park's entrance, the splashy acrobatics of Orky and Corky the killer whales, Bubbles the pilot whale, and snorkeling the curved, faux-rocky recesses of Baja Reef amid rainbows of tropical fish. Marineland was only the second oceanarium in the United States when it opened to the public Aug. 28, 1954.
In 1986,Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, the publishing giant which then owned Sea World in San Diego, was in the process of rapidly expanding the Sea World enterprise throughout the nation, and was in desperate need of proven, successful breeding pairs of killer whales in order to supply their new Sea World locations with their headline act, "Shamu, the killer whale". Harcourt had been denied a permit to capture additional killer whales in the wild and was therefore limited to acquiring killer whales already in captivity. Harcourt approached the owners of Marineland which was then struggling financially, with an offer to purchase their star attractions, Corky and Orky,, who had proven to be a successful breeding pair of killer whales. The owners of Marineland were unwilling to part with them, and instead offered to sell the entire Marineland park.
Postcard of Marineland (note pier in background)
In public testimony to the City Council of Rancho Palos Verdes, company officials stated that their intentions in acquiring the park were to renovate and keep the park open. They really only wanted Orky and Corky, however, and planned to shut the park down and to immediately sell the land to an Arizona developer, and quickly did so after closing the park. Harcourt completed their purchase of the park in late 1986, and within a few weeks after the purchase, moved Corky and Orky to their Sea World Park in San Diego in the middle of the night without any prior notice to the public, and closed Marineland, claiming that the park was going to cost more money to renovate than they originally estimated.
Orky, the larger male,at Marineland show
Unfortunately, Orky, the male, died two years later in 1988, however Corky is still alive (she is now believed to be about 40 years old and the oldest of the seven killer whales in San Diego) and performing daily at Sea World in San Diego. She gave birth to seven calves, however all died soon after birth, with the oldest living only for 46 days. Palos Verdes residents, to this day, mourn the loss of this wonderful community asset, which fortunately, however, has been replaced by the beautiful new 5 star Terranea Resort.
New Terranea Resort
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