PETA, Politician Call For End To SeaWorld Orca Shows
March 10, 2014

PETA, Politician Call For End To SeaWorld Orca Shows

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A proposed ban on the use of orcas for entertainment purposes in the state of California has put the bill’s author and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at odds with SeaWorld and the mayor of San Diego, home to the popular aquatic theme park, according to various media reports published over the weekend.

According to Los Angeles Times reporter Tony Perry, Democratic Assemblyman Richard Hershel Bloom introduced the bill, which would make it illegal to use the killer whales “for performance or entertainment purposes” and would also prohibit captive breeding at the San Diego SeaWorld – the only park in the state that features orca shows.

“These beautiful creatures are much too large and intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives,” Bloom, who is in his first term, said in a statement. “It is time that we embrace that the long-accepted practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement must end,” he added in a press conference, according to CNN’s Michael Martinez.

It is said to be inspired by the documentary “Blackfish,” which was produced by Magnolia Pictures and details the 2010 death of longtime SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, Martinez said. Brancheau was killed by a 12,000-pound Orca known as Tilikum, who the film alleges was driven mad due to being kept in captivity. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film’s director, and a pair of former SeaWorld orca trainers joined Bloom at his press conference.

Following Brancheau’s death, “the public has begun to question the moral justification of keeping orcas in captivity for our general entertainment,” Bloom said in a fact sheet, according to Martinez. He said that California should “lead the way in ending captivity for entertainment purposes and should be ensuring our current captive population general welfare needs are taken care of, and that we end any future captivity… programs here in California.”

On Friday, San Diego’s Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer told the Los Angeles Times that the bill would “only serve to hurt San Diego jobs.” He called SeaWorld “a critical part of San Diego's economy… In addition to drawing thousands of tourists to San Diego each year, it is also a leader in maritime and wildlife conservation,” and added that there are “much more pressing issues” that state legislators should address.

According to the Times, the San Diego SeaWorld employs 2,500 people during the winter months and 4,500 during the summer. Last year, it paid a reported $14-plus million in rent to the city, and it is said to attract nearly 4.5 million visitors each year – much of which is due to the orca shows at the facility’s Shamu Stadium, according to Perry.

SeaWorld, which has strongly denied the allegations put forth in Blackfish, released a statement this weekend which called the proposed legislation “severely flawed on multiple levels” and questioning its validity under both the US and California constitutions, Perry wrote on Saturday.

In that statement, CNN said that SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said that those joining Bloom in calling for the ban on orca performances were “extreme animal rights activists” who had a “clear bias” and “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,” she said, adding that SeaWorld engages in “business practices that are responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share.”