As a U.S. congressman recently announced a draft bill designed to gradually end the display of killer whales for entertainment purposes and prevent captive orca breeding, killer-whale shows may soon be phased out at SeaWorld.
On Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff told reporters that the new bill would also ban any killer whale-related trade operations, and put an end to the capture of the animals. If the bill is approved, there would not be any killer whale displays after all captive whales died.
Schiff argued that captivity and public display are linked to strong physical and mental harm done to orcas, which outweigh by far the benefits of public display.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has two dozens orcas in three of its parks, while Miami Seaquarium has only one specimen.
SeaWorld recently replied to the U.S. congressman’s statements. The entertainment company said that its staffers do not neglect or abuse the animals. It also argued that it works with scientists, conservationists and federal agencies to make sure that the magnificent animals are treated with dignity and respect.
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums also retaliated against the congressman’s initiative. The group argued that all facilities which hold killer whales in captivity carry out valuable research and raise the public appreciation for the creatures.
“Each generation can benefit from the opportunity to see these animals in person,”
said Kathleen Dezio, head of the AMMPA.
But the recent initiative stems from a 2013 documentary called ‘Blackfish’ which showed that the large mammals were abused and neglected by SeaWorld staffers. The theme park tried to dismiss negative publicity by spending $100 million on expanding orca enclosure at its facility in San Diego.
The California Coastal Commission agreed on the plan under two conditions: that SeaWorld ends killer whale breeding in captivity and bans import of new animals. Yet, the park was not pleased with the decision and plans to challenge it in court.
In 2014, California Assemblyman Richard Bloom tried to pass a similar piece of legislation which was later postponed. According to the 2014 draft, killer whale displays, captive killer whale breeding, imports and exports of the mammals would have been banned.
Recently, Bloom said that if SeaWorld resumed breeding of orcas in captivity and forfeit the expansion, more orca protections would be necessary. Yet, SeaWorld officials argued that it is impossible to prevent breeding as long as male and female whales are kept together. On the other hand, separating them would mean to separate parents from offspring, as well.
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