The president of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment wrote an impassioned defence of zoos and aquariums this week, saying "the real enemies of wildlife are poaching, pollution, unsustainable human development and man-made disasters such as oil spills."

Joel Manby's comments came as the theme park operator announced it would stop breeding killer whales, and that those currently at its parks would be the last.

Under unrelenting pressure from animal rights groups and suffering from a drop in ticket sales, SeaWorld announced Thursday it was ending its orca-breeding program and stopping its traditional killer whale shows. 

Is there a place for aquariums and zoos in an altered form? Or should they stay as they are? Or, maybe they should be abolished completely?

What's the future of zoos and aquariums?

Readers let us know in today's CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest.

(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the comment in the blog format.)

Some readers leaned toward zoos and aquariums staying as they are.

"We learn so much from caring for these animals in our care and that knowledge is applied to save the wild counterparts. If zoos/aquariums don't get to care for the animals in their care, we don't get to do the same in the wild." — Bruce

"I look at zoos (not necessarily SeaWorld as I don't know enough about them) as an animal winning the lottery. If I am a wild animal my existence will be hard, and my death will result in me being killed viciously by something, not dying of natural causes. If I am in a zoo I get fed, taken care of, and I get to lose my kill-to-survive mentality." -

Others said they should be eliminated altogether

"I am wholeheartedly opposed to keeping large mammals in captivity for our amusement and pleasure. They belong in the wild and we should devote our resources to animal reserves that protect the species. Maybe if there weren't zoos and aquariums breeding these animals people would be more inclined to devote resources for animal preservation in the wild." — Jae

"The animals are often treated poorly and can never be re-introduced to the wild after being in captivity. It is absolutely gut wrenching to see killer whales, dolphins and seals trapped in these little pools, or lions, bears and birds trapped in cages. What it must do to them mentally. We can't even imagine. Please, lets show some humanity." — Gordon

Others suggested ways to improve what already exists.

"What is key is to create regulations where zoos are strictly non-profit and must exist solely for 'the protection, preservation, rehabilitation and revitalization of species at risk.' Animals not fitting into this category should not be in zoos or aquariums. The display of animals in zoos should be a secondary process with the sole purpose of educating and not entertaining the public." — Aaron

"Many animals have lived with humans for centuries and have been a part of our progress like horses, elephants and camels. We are able to provide good habitats for them. It does take a lot of space, expertise and money to create a good zoo, and that is where the problems are. Many zoos are outdated: too small or lacking in funds to provide better care. Those perhaps should be shut." — Arlette

Can't see the forum? Click here.

With files from Greg Rasmussen, Reuters and The Associated Press