SeaWorld’s orca breeding ban could go to court
SAN DIEGO – The public and media seemed surprised last week when the California Coastal Commission ordered SeaWorld San Diego to halt captive breeding of orcas as a condition of getting a permit to build a larger exhibit space for the 11 marine mammals.
But the commission’s decision to take the unprecedented step came after weeks of behind-the-scenes wrangling between Coastal Commission staff and SeaWorld attorneys over whether, in effect, the 1966 federal Animal Welfare Act gives the commission authority over the care and management of captive orcas, also known as killer whales, the Los Angeles Times reported.
If, as the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper is urging, SeaWorld takes the Coastal Commission to court seeking to overturn the anti-breeding condition, the dispute over that 1966 law, and other legal arcana about the relative authority of state vs. federal agencies over marine mammals, will be central.
SeaWorld officials have not said whether they plan litigation, just that all options are being considered.