Lawmaker to introduce bill to ban orca captivity

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SAN DIEGO — In what could be another major blow to SeaWorld San Diego, a Los Angeles-area congressman announced Friday he plans to introduce federal legislation that would ban the captivity of orcas.

“The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank. “We cannot be responsible stewards of our natural environment and propagate messages about the importance of animal welfare when our behaviors do not reflect our principles.”

Schiff said his proposed Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act would phase out the captivity of orcas, so no future generations of killer whales can be kept on display.

The legislation would effectively end the famed Shamu killer whale shows at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and around the country.

Jill Kermes, senior corporate affairs officers for SeaWorld Entertainment, said the proposed legislation is misguided, saying SeaWorld and other science-based groups “are part of the solution, not the problem.”

“Killer whales at SeaWorld are healthy and thriving and through conservation and rescue efforts as well as significant work to advance the scientific understanding of orcas and other marine mammals, SeaWorld is a leader in protecting and preserving these species,” Kermes said.

“We have not captured a whale in the wild in 35 years — and we will not do so,” Kermes said. “Through our work with scientists, conservation leaders and the government, SeaWorld is ensuring that all animals in human care are treated with the dignity and respect they require and deserve.”

The San Diego theme park already took a hit last month when the California Coastal Commission approved an expansion of its killer whale exhibit but ordered an end to the breeding of captive orcas at the park. That ban would also eventually phase out the Shamu exhibit.

SeaWorld plans to challenging the commission’s ruling.

SeaWorld has suffered dipping attendance since the release of the documentary film “Blackfish,” which focused on the treatment of orcas at the park.

On Monday, SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby is expected to announce plans for a new attraction designed to boost attendance — possibly using some of the $100 million the park planned to spend on the expanded orca tanks.


  • Stupid is as Adam Schiff does!

    Adam Schiff has nothing better to do than harass SeaWorld who is the best steward of our oceans – bar none -!
    It is sad when he confuses actual animal abuse i.e. police working dogs sent to do work police feel is too dangerous with for real club med for orcas where they only have to splash caretakers and have sex! Not even police working dogs get to indulge in sex! So, Adam Schiff, get a clue and quit trying to suck up to a misguided group of animal rights activists who overlook the overwhelming good SeaWorld does and either do nothing or do the right thing and halt the true cruelty that is the police working dog program!

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    • Jim Light

      If you issue is police dogs, go lobby. 1.2 million people support Calfiornia’s orca ban bill. And the CCC received more comments about SeaWorld’s BlueWorld project than any other project they’ve ever deliberated. A national poll shows that the tide of public opinion has turned against orca captivity. When SeaWorld refuses to listen, legislation is an obvious choice of methods to stop the cruelty.

      SeaWorld is not the caring organization you think. They decimated the SRKW population. They began the orca captures in Iceland. They restarted dolphin drive kills in Japan. They were party to an application to import 18 beluga whales caught in Russia. NOAA denied the import because 5 of the belugas were still nursing age when taken. And the taking was an unsustainable impact to a declining population of beluga whales.

      The vast majority of marine mammal rescues over the vast majority of US coastline are done by non-profit orgs, government orgs and institutions. In 2013, a single non-profit rescued over 200 more marine mammals than all SeaWorld Parks combined. Why do we here so much about SeaWorld rescues? Because SeaWorld spends 15x as much on marketing as it does on rescue. If you care about marine mammal rescue, a single dollar donated to a non-profit will do more than your full price admission to SeaWorld.

  • Stupid

    Now the legislators are trying to deprave the poor orcas of sex. California needs to keep its skinners on things that protect us and away from things that add no improvement to our quality of life~ If PETA has a problem with SeaWorld then they should buy SeaWorld and shut it down and not waste our governments time with stupidity!

    • Jim Light

      And SeaWorld has deprived the poor orcas of their freedom, their family and an adequate place to live.

      Not PETA. Never was. Never will be. And I’m a conservative Republican as well. But none of that means I support the obvious cruelty to these orcas.

  • Tim

    Is it true that the original co-sponsor of the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act wouldn’t even show up to the press conference, and no longer wants his name attached to this bill?

  • Hedi

    I really hope this ends up becoming the law. I stopped going to Sea World years ago because the orcas looked so sad and miserable.

  • Lynne

    Sea World has not captured an Orca in 35 years, the total captive Orcas in all 3 parks is 24, there were thousands of wild Orcas counted in Alaska alone, Just like animals in Zoo’s, even though it’s hard to see wildlife in cages, I believe the sacrifice of some to educate, and make people aware of all these beautiful creatures is worth it, they become much more cherished by the humans, and then the humans help to preserve the rest. Why don’t the same people who cry for the 24 Orca’s at Seaworld, cry out for the thousands of humans who die for us everyday sacrificing their freedom and life to preserve the rest of us?
    I mean look how well we protected the White Rhino? 1 in captivity, none in the wild due to poaching……. This is an idiotic proposal, as in,how about finding something a bit more threatening to get be hind. What a Jerk! He probably hunts for sport on his days off…..

    • Jim Light

      SeaWorld does not breed any endangered marine mammal species, though there are several they could. SeaWorld is not the caring org you think. Their track record is horrendous.

      The issue is not how many orcas they have. The issue is the orcas are suffering under the cruel conditions of their captivity.

  • Julie Casey

    The lies spilling out of $eaWorld are astounding: “SeaWorld is a leader in protecting and preserving these species” HOW EXACTLY WAS SEAWORLD PROTECTING AND PRESERVING THE SRKW POPULATION IT DECIMATED-!!PERMANENTLY!!-WHEN THEY RIPPED SO MANY YOUNG POD MEMBERS FROM THEIR FAMILIES IN THE 60’s AND 70’s THAT THEY LITERALLY LED THEM TO BEING ENDANGERED?! How, SeaWorld, pray tell, would that be considered “protecting and preserving ” the species?! You DESTROYED them. You OBLITERATED them. This is absolute fact that you and those who worked for you have acknowledged, so I am curious as to what your current definitions of “protect” and “preserve” are. My second favorite quote from $eaWorld is “SeaWorld and other science-based groups are part of the solution, not the problem.” Seriously? If captivity is the problem, captivity is the appalling practice we need to cease immediately, and SW is fighting tooth and nail to continue this horrific practice, explain please how SW is the “solution.” Do you know yhe definition of the words “solution” and “problem”?

    Apparently SeaWorld still believes folks are unintelligent and gullible and unable to educate themselves about how truly awful the lives of captive MARINE mammals are while living in tiny concrete boxes (Located on dry land) stuffed with unrelated non-pod members surrounded by walls in every direction.

    If there is really anyone out there who is taking what SeaWorld says as truth, please research the issue on ANY site except SW’s; watch one of 30 documentaries available online, on Netflix, etc, and see just how unhealthy, frustrated, medicated, and depressed these poor animals are. You will never have any desire to step foot in a SeaWorld Entertainment Park again, I guarantee it. They care about one thing: making as much money as possible through using huge marine mammals entertaining people with circus tricks.

    I guess I should say nice effort to SW, since $eaWorld is now sounding beyond ridiculous. They’re so incredibly desperate that they don’t even care that their lies are glaringly obvious and simply a joke at this point. They are a terrific example of how NOT to proceed in a brand reputation crisis. Wow…….just, well, WOW.

  • Ban Liberals

    Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. has homeless humans living in his neighborhood and they eat out of his dumpsters. He drives by them in his BMW and watches them as they beg for pocket change at roadway intersections. These Orcas he claims to care about eat and live better than these homeless humans could ever hope for. These human members of his constituency should be his focus and priority.

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