Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s bill, which bans the breeding of captive orcas in the state and restricts orca “shows” to educational presentations rather than for entertainment.
Bloom previously sought a broad bill that would have phased out captivity of orcas in California, (add comma) as well as requiring captive orcas to be retired to sea pens. That bill had strong opposition from SeaWorld and was suspended in the state legislature.
However, after a campaign by Earth Island’s International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) and other organizations, the California Coastal Commission imposed a ban on SeaWorld’s breeding of captive orcas. At first, SeaWorld fought that ban and filed a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission. Then, in March this year, SeaWorld reversed course and announced they would no longer breed orcas in any of their facilities (in addition to SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld has orcas in parks in San Antonio and Orlando). SeaWorld’s lawsuit against the Coastal Commission was recently dropped, as IMMP sought to legally intervene in support of the Commission.
SeaWorld was reportedly neutral on the legislation, which passed easily.
Two major issues for captive cetaceans still exist: SeaWorld has no restrictions on breeding dolphins, belugas, and other species aside from orcas, and SeaWorld is still opposed to retiring their orcas to sea pen sanctuaries, which was subsequently dropped from Bloom’s bill. IMMP and other groups are seeking retirement and an end to exploitation of dolphins by SeaWorld and other parks.
SeaWorld also continues to make false statements about their captive orcas, such as claiming captive orcas live as long as wild orcas, that drooped fins of male orcas is common in the wild, that SeaWorld does not separate orca calves from their mothers, and that orcas are “happy” in captivity. IMMP is pursuing litigation to make SeaWorld tell the truth about orcas to the public.
Photo by z2amiller/Flickr.