The show will go on--for now.
Following the fallout from the Blackfish documentary, an assemblyman in California proposed legislation that would end orca shows in the state--namely at SeaWorld San Diego. To the dismay of many animal rights activists, the bill was deferred until at least next year.
The Orca Welfare and Safety Act bill (also called the "Blackfish bill") was introduced last month by Assemblyman Richard Bloom from Santa Monica. If the bill is eventually passed as it is currently written, it will bring forth many changes to how killer whales are treated in California. Under this bill, it would be illegal to hold orcas in captivity for performance purposes, which would prevent SeaWorld San Diego from holding orca shows. The bill would also make it illegal to breed killer whales in captivity. Anyone holding orcas for entertainment purposes would also be forced to eventually transfer the whales to sea pens.
“There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” Bloom said last month. “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.”
An Assembly committee decided to defer voting on the bill on Tuesday. The bill has attracted attention from all around the world, and it was decided that more time was needed to research components of the bill before voting on it. Even though Bloom is strongly against orca shows, he says that the deferment probably isn't a bad thing.
"I think that allowing more time for you committee members to really dig into the information that is out there and come to your conclusions in a fashion that allows careful consideration is not a bad idea," Bloom said. The assemblyman later tweeted that he's looking forward to continuing his work on the bill.
— Assemblyman Bloom (@AsmRichardBloom) April 8, 2014
SeaWorld has been busy working to debunk some of the claims made in Blackfish, including the claim that holding killer whales in captivity can shorten their lifespans. As such, SeaWorld San Diego President John Reilly is relieved that the bill has been deferred.
"The bill was deeply flawed and fundamentally flawed and didn't appear to have support today," Reilly said. "We believe strongly there is an inspiration benefit to people seeing (killer whales) in our park."
Image via Wikimedia Commons