A California lawmaker introduced legislation Friday intended to end the captivity of killer whales, or orcas, at theme parks in the state.
The Orca Welfare and Safety Act from Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, would make it a crime to "hold in captivity or use a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes," according to CBS Los Angeles
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Perpetrators could face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or six months in a county jail.
"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom said in a statement. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives. It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement."
Bloom was joined at the news conference announcing the bill by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of the controversial documentary "Blackfish," Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, and two former SeaWorld orca trainers.
The film "Blackfish" examines the 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was drowned by an orca at SeaWorld Orlando, as well as the levels of abuse endured by the whales in captivity. After Brancheau died, trainers could no longer be in the water with the whales.
Rose said the movie inspired the bill.
"The Blackfish effect has never been in greater evidence — everything has led to this, the first serious legislative proposal to prohibit the captive display of this highly intelligent and social species," Rose told takepart.com. "SeaWorld should join with this effort
rather than continue to fight it. They can be on the right side of history."
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