On Thursday (17Mar16) executives at the aquatic themepark chain announced the company will no longer breed killer whales and all live shows involving the animals will be shut down by 2019.

Gabriela helped call attention to the treatment of the captive mammals in her groundbreaking 2013 documentary Blackfish, and although she is delighted with SeaWorld bosses' plans, the filmmaker believes much more needs to be done.

"Of course we want more because change should always be dynamic," Cowperthwaite tells The Hollywood Reporter, "but breeding, expanding killer whales into international markets, all these missives once sat at the centre of their business model. And they're willing to stop these practices immediately. This is paradigm shifting."

Blackfish centred on an orca named Tilikum, responsible for killing three people while in captivity at SeaWorld.

CNN Films produced Blackfish and executives at the production house are extremely proud of the significant cultural change the movie prompted.

"CNN covered the story that eventually inspired Gabriela Cowerperthwaite’s powerful film, Blackfish," a CNN spokesperson wrote in a statement, referring to 2010 article 'SeaWorld trainer killed by killer whale', written by John Couwels and Brian Todd. "It has always been our intention to bring depth, context, and critical reporting to the powerful stories of our times for CNN Films. We feel that Blackfish was one of those projects and CNN Films was proud to present this stirring, extraordinary film for our audience.”

Several Hollywood stars have protested the treatment of orcas in the years since Blackfish reached theatres. Jackass star Steve-O was arrested for defacing a SeaWorld freeway sign in support of the killer whale freedom movement and model Marisa Miller bared all for the SeaWorldOfHurt campaign created by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.