A Big Step Forward – Freeing Willy

Orca Shows and Breeding are now officially Banned in California

SeaWorld San Diego pledged to stop breeding killer whales and producing and performing theatrical shows.

Now it’s the law.

SeaWorld and other marine parks in California will no longer be allowed to have shows featuring killer whales performing tricks for crowds’ entertainment. PHOTOGRAPH BY FLIP NICKLIN, MINDEN PICTURES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

California Governor Jerry Brown officially signed the Orca Protection and Safety Act into law last Tuesday, banning the breeding of killer whales in captivity, as well as the circus-like shows that have them performing for crowds.

Facing  ever increasing, and valid, criticism since the 2013 documentary Blackfish aired, exposing concerns about orca welfare, SeaWorld had already agreed to cease breeding the killer whales in all of their U.S. parks. The new law mirrors several changes that SeaWorld had already committed to making, but the bill’s sponsors say the legislation was still important to make sure that SeaWorld can’t change its mind, and that no other California park can breed or do non-educational orca shows in the future. (Read

The new law reflects several changes that SeaWorld had already ‘committed’ to making. The legislation ensures that SeaWorld can’t change its mind and that no other California park can breed or do non-educational orca shows in the future.

Photo by northernlight

In practice, the bill will mean that the only orcas allowed to be kept in captivity in California will be the 11 already grandfathered in at SeaWorld San Diego.

While the act bans the use of orcas in entertainment, SeaWorld can continue orca shows if they are educational. The company has already decided that their theatrical killer whale shows will be replaced with what they call “educational orca encounters” starting in 2017.  While many feel these educational encounters are still a grave form of mistreatment, it’s undeniable that the bill is a step in the right direction to righting the wrongs that were committed in the capture and entertainment abuse of these intelligent and sentient creatures.

 

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