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California official proposes ban on killer whale shows and captive breeding

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On Friday, March 7, 2014, California Assemblyman Richard Bloom submitted a proposal that would ban the breeding of killer whales and end live performances. If the proposal becomes law, it would basically put an end to SeaWorld San Diego’s popular “Shamu” shows. According to Bloom:

“There is no justification for the continued display of orcas for entertainment purposes. These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives.”

Since the launch of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish”, animal advocates have been actively trying to boycott SeaWorld and put an end to captive orca breeding programs and public shows. The documentary examines the events leading up to the 2010 death of one of SeaWorld’s top trainers, Dawn Brancheau, after she was dragged underwater and drowned by an orca in Florida’s SeaWorld park. Since her tragic death, no trainer has been allowed back into the water while killer whales perform.

SeaWorld has continued to voice its opinion that the documentary is extremely misleading and one sided. In its defense, SeaWorld says that:

“Our passionate employees are the true animal advocates - the pioneering scientists, researchers, veterinarians, trainers, marine biologists, educators, aquarists, aviculturists and conservations who for 50 years have cared for the animals at SeaWorld and also saved thousands in the wild that are injured, ill or orphaned.”

Orcas are the world’s largest dolphin and are known for their high intelligence and social group behavior. In the wild, they can live as long as 50 to 80 years. This beautiful black and white marine mammal is referred to as a killer whale because they have been known to attack and kill other whales. There is no account of a human ever being attacked by an orca in its natural habitat.

If a ban on orca performances and captive breeding becomes reality, it could set a precedent for the creation of other laws protecting captive animals, especially those that are forced to perform in such venues as circuses and fairs. It may also force SeaWorld to rethink its organization by moving away from entertainment and focus more on becoming a marine sanctuary and rehabilitation facility which is gravely needed to help threatened and endangered marine wildlife.

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