SeaWorld reps fight bill to ban orca shows

SeaWorld representatives paid a visit to the Capitol Wednesday to defend orca shows at its San Diego park, while a bill moves through the California Assembly to ban the shows and the captive breeding of killer whales.

It's the first time SeaWorld reps have spoken to the public since the bill was introduced. They presented to legislators and their staff during an informational about the science and research of marine mammals.

"We at SeaWorld feel that this bill is deeply flawed and we disagree with it absolutely. And we disagree with it because it's flawed on its premise," SeaWorld Veterinarian Services Vice President Christopher Dold said. "And it assumes that there is something inherently wrong with performances. And potentially with the care programs for the whales that we're privileged to care for at SeaWorld on a daily basis. The whales at SeaWorld are healthy, they're thriving."

Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introduced the bill last month. The Orca Welfare and Safety Act (AB 2140) was inspired by the documentary Blackfish. The film focuses on the deaths of an animal trainer and two other people involving a killer whale. The film also criticized the treatment of killer whales and questioned the morality of breeding marine mammals.

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"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom declared in a release in March. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives. It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement."

The bill still has to go through several committee hearings. The legislation proposes retiring California captive orcas to sea pens to live out the remainder of their lives in more natural surroundings. They'll still be accessible to the public.

SeaWorld representatives plan to return to the Capitol again this month to strongly oppose the bill. SeaWorld calls Blackfish a propaganda film not based in science.


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