California SeaWorld Phasing Out Killer Whale Shows

Photo: Patrick Frilet/REX Shutterstock
Update: The end of the Blackfish era could be near: SeaWorld will phase out its exploitative killer whale shows at its San Diego park in 2017, reportd the San Diego Union Tribune. In a post uploaded to SeaWorld's website ahead of a planned webcast, the company said it would move away from the shows that inspired protests and boycotts and towards a more educational setup that emphasizes conservation. SeaWorld operates 11 parks, including SeaWorlds in Orlando and Austin. Those two locations were not mentioned in the documents posted online.

This story was originally published on November 8, 2015.

Since the 2013 release of the documentary Blackfish, which investigated the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau and the harrowing effect of captivity on killer whales and other animals, SeaWorld has been under some hard-to-ignore scrutiny for its shocking treatment of animals. Despite its ill-advised #AskSeaWorld public relations campaign, attendance at the company's theme parks has continued to drop steadily — along with its stock prices. Just last month, a new California law ruled that SeaWorld can no longer breed killer whales in captivity. And now, a congressman from Southern California is proposing a law that may finally put an end to the days of orcas in legal captivity.

On Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), announced that he plans to introduce the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act, a bill that would “phase out the captivity of orcas so that their display ends with this generation,” reports Gawker. The bill, if approved, would outlaw the breeding of captive orca, prohibit the capture of wild orca, and stop the import and export of killer whales into and out of the United States, essentially putting an end to any shows across the country that feature the marine mammals once those currently in captivity die.

"The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display," Schiff said in a statement excerpted by The San Diego Union-Tribune. In response to Schiff's announcement, SeaWorld Entertainment senior corporate affairs officer Jill Kermes released a statement insisting that the company does not neglect or abuse killer whales, but instead works to ensure "that all animals in human care are treated with the dignity and respect they require and deserve."

Marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose, who has been a vocal advocate against SeaWorld, told Gawker that while the bill’s chances of success “are not fantastically high,” it does have bipartisan support. And perhaps most importantly, “it sends a strong message, to the public display industry and the states with captive orcas, that this is a public interest matter, solidly in the mainstream."

Here's hoping.
Advertisement

More from US News

When thinking about the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) opening this weekend, the first thing that comes ...
On Saturday, police arrested a 20-year-old suspect in connection with a shooting at a Washington state mall that left five people dead, reports The ...
The 2016 presidential election has been a captivating contest. If you feel like sometimes you can't look away, well, you're not alone. Even celebrities ...
If the chaotic party politics of the 2016 election have left you feeling completely birdbrained, this video is for you. The Founding Fathers (presented ...
Update: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney announced in a press conference that dashcam and body cam video of the department's interaction with...
Election Day lasts just one day — a 24-hour culmination of the seemingly never-ending campaign season. But we’ll spend the next two, four, six years ...
What can you do to make the candidates first head-to-head battle as pleasant as possible? What is the secret to keep yourself smizing as you listen to the ...
In the social order of bonobos, females rule and develop cross-generational bonds to keep the males in check. A senior female takes charge, intervening ...
The first presidential debate is finally upon us. On Monday, our candidates for commander-in-chief will finally go head-to-head on issues that matter ...
Update: Officer Betty Shelby, the policewoman who fatally shot Terence Crutcher last Friday, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, NBC News ...
Step aside, old-school political merch. We're way past bumper stickers and buttons. With the election just months away, people across the country are ...
Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis: Hillary Clinton from Funny Or Die Will Tim Kaine be president for nine months if Hillary Clinton gets pregnant? ...
Goodbye, paperwork printouts and lines at the DMV. Hello, registering while in line for coffee. Starting today, you can register to vote over text ...
1. Here At Home: No charges will be filed against police in the shooting death of Korryn Gaines. Korryn Gaines, 23, was shot and killed on August 1 ...