SeaWorld’s Worst Nightmare: Calif. Lawmaker to Propose Ban on Orcas in Captivity
If passed, the bill would be the most comprehensive protection law for captive orcas in the United States in more than 40 years.
In a surprising move that is sure to send shock waves across the entire captive whale and dolphin industry, a California lawmaker will propose legislation to outlaw Shamu shows at SeaWorld San Diego.
State Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D–Santa Monica, will introduce Friday the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, which would make it illegal to “hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes.” The bill would also ban artificial insemination of captive killer whales in California and block the import of orcas or orca semen from other states.
Violators would face a fine up to $100,000 and/or six months in a county jail.
“There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” Bloom declared in a written statement prior to a press conference to be held at the Santa Monica Pier. “These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives. It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement.”
According to Bloom, the law would be “the most comprehensive protection law for captive orcas in the United States in over 40 years.”
Under the terms of the bill, all 10 orcas held in tanks at SeaWorld San Diego, the only California facility that has whales, “shall be rehabilitated and returned to the wild where possible.” If that is not possible, then the whales must be “transferred and held in a sea pen that is open to the public and not used for performance or entertainment purposes.”
Exempt from the legislation are any orcas held for rehabilitation after a rescue or stranding, or for research purposes. But even these animals would have to be returned to the ocean or sent to a sea pen.