SeaWorld keeps its word; Landmark legislation to help captive whales is one step closer in California

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Southern Resident orcas J54 and mother, J28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit.
(Southern Resident orcas J54 and mother, J28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit).

In an unprecedented move, today the California Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife committee voted twelve to one in support of legislation what will permanently ban the breeding of captive orcas in California.
AB 2305 will not only prohibit the breeding of captive orcas, it will allow only educational displays of the existing animals.  Dr. Naomi Rose from the Animal Welfare Institute, former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove (featured in Blackfish) and Kim Ventre from Voice of the Orcas as well as many others spoke in support. The bill was presented by Assemblyman Richard Bloom.
Assembly bill AB will make sure that SeaWorld's pledge to stop breeding killer whales will also apply to any other companies that may develop in the future.
Assembly bill AB 2305 will make sure that SeaWorld’s pledge to stop breeding killer whales will also apply to any other companies in California, ensuring that SeaWorld’s promise won’t come back to bite them if a competing park decided to throw their hat in the ring. To that end, this legislation is actually good for SeaWorld – if they can’t breed, neither can anyone else if the bill makes all the way through the Senate.

SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding killer whales was admittedly difficult, but today they showed their commitment to follow through by not fighting the proposed legislation in California to ban orca breeding in captivity.

SeaWorld was represented by Pete Montgomery who testified that SeaWorld has no position on the bill, and underscored SeaWorld’s recent pledge to stop breeding killer whales and to make other significant changes in the care and maintenance of marine mammals.
SeaWorld’s CEO, Joel Manby, openly attributed their decision in part to the inevitability of local state legislation that would force them to stop breeding the whales anyway.
Last month the San Diego Union Tribune wrote:

While the tide of public opinion concerning orcas clearly was turning, fueled in part by the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Manby said, were legislative efforts in California to outlaw captive breeding. He cited a California Coastal Commission decision that would require SeaWorld to end the breeding of killer whales if it wanted to expand its orca tanks, a project that it has since abandoned.

“I’m quite certain legislation in California would come against us,” he said. “Once something is illegal and moved east, it would be very difficult to change that trend so we decided we needed to get ahead of this because as you know, SeaWorld has an incredible tale to tell, but the orca issue is a barrier between our story and a growing audience.”

The presentation and discussion of the bill was recorded by Haze Sommer, who has shared it here:

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