Tags: orca | shows | bill | killer | whale | ban | california

Orca Shows Bill Drowns as Killer Whale Ban Put Off in California

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 06:56 AM

By Michael Mullins

The orca shows bill, which would have ended the captivity of killer whales at theme parks in California, has been postponed until at least 2015, angering animal rights activists.

If passed, the orca shows bill would have banned the import, export and breeding of orcas in the Golden State, and it would have required SeaWorld San Diego to move its 10 killer whales out of tanks and into larger sea pens.

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Prior to the hearing on Monday, the bill's author, Democrat Richard Bloom of Santa Monica, agreed before the water, parks and wildlife committee to revisit his proposal after further study, The Associated Press reported.

"It's unfortunate that much of the conversation has been fueled ... by fear and invective and misinformation," Bloom said. "It's clear that many committee members are simply unprepared to make a decision on the bill."

Bloom told reporters that the bill was a response to the 2013 documentary "Blackfish."  The documentary reported that orcas, specifically those trained to perform at SeaWorld, are mistreated in captivity and consequently lash out at each other as well as at trainers.

The CNN documentary focuses on the killer whale Tilikum, a bull orca captured off Ice Land's coast in the early 1980s. Between 1991 and 1999, Tilikum was involved in the deaths of three individuals, two of who were trainers. Despite this, Tilikum remains an attraction at SeaWorld Orlando.

Soon after the documentary's release, SeaWorld dismissed it as "dishonest."

Lawmakers heard from both sides of the debate this week before deciding to postpone the bill's vote.

Former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove, who worked at both SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld San Diego, told elected officials that SeaWorld's orcas often appear agitated and had attempted to drag him under water on several occasions.

SeaWorld representatives at the State Assembly Monday reportedly dismissed the notion from several dozen animal advocates that orcas are too intelligent and too large for captivity.

"That argument is not based on credible peer-reviewed science," John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego Park, told the AP. "It's based on emotion and a propaganda film."

However, more than 1.2 million people disagree and have signed a petition that would effectively end the practice of keeping captivated orcas in the state of California. The petition was presented to lawmakers on Monday.

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