‘Blackfish’ Inspires Legislation to Protect Orcas

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Thanks to global outrage surrounding cruelty revealed in “Blackfish,” a documentary about the inhumane treatment orcas at SeaWorld that led to trainer deaths, a California lawmaker is proposing a ban on orcas in captivity. If passed, the bill would require the SeaWorld in San Diego to end its live killer whale performances and ban captive breeding and the import and export of orcas across state lines.

Richard Bloom of the California State Assembly introduced the bill alongside “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, former orca trainers who participated in the film, and Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute who helped write the legislation.

“There is no justification for the continued display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” said Bloom. “These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives.”


According to Bloom, the bill would be “the most comprehensive protection law for captive orcas in the United States in over 40 years.”

Sea World San Diego is home to 10 killer whales, seven of which were born in captivity. If the bill passes, Sea World will be required to release all 10 of the orcas to the wild when possible.

Regarding the proposed legislation, SeaWorld spokesperson Becca Bides said in an email to U.S. News & World Report, “While we cannot comment on Assemblyman Bloom’s proposed legislation until we see it, the individuals he has chosen to associate with for today’s press conference are well known extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions. Included in the group are some of the same activists that partnered with PETA in bringing the meritless claim that animals in human care should be considered slaves under the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution – a clear publicity stunt. This legislation appears to reflect the same sort of out-of-the-mainstream thinking. SeaWorld, one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions, already operates under multiple federal, state and local animal welfare laws.”

Isn’t it telling that SeaWorld considers “out-of-the-mainstream thinking” detrimental to society? I think we would all do well to shake ourselves from perpetuating “the mainstream” and consider the consequences of our actions. Here’s hoping the legislation has a positive impact on the future wellbeing of all captive wildlife.

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