California is the first state to ban theatrical shows and orca breeding.
California just became the first state to ban both the breeding of orcas and using them in theatrical shows for entertainment purposes. Starting in June 2017, they will only be allowed to participate in “educational presentations,” much to the chagrin of SeaWorld in San Diego.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the Orca Protection and Safety Act into law on Tuesday, making history and setting a precedent for killer whales and their treatment in the rest of the 49 states. The new law comes after many years of controversy regarding the capture, breeding, and use of the large, majestic creatures by humans for entertainment.
Though SeaWorld has already committed to making similar changes to their policies, the state law has solidified those commitments by ensuring that the theme park can’t change their mind or tweak their changes.
The park has said that it will begin using the whales in “educational orca encounters starting in San Diego next year,” said the company, adding in an email to National Geographic, “Guests will feel like they are taking part in a live documentary with a modified habitat for a more natural-looking setting.”
Ever since the release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013, attendance and support for SeaWorlds around the world has been plummeting rapidly, forcing the park to make huge changes to their animal welfare policies in regards to their orcas. Carney Anne Nasser, senior counsel for wildlife and regulatory affairs at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said,
“As more and more members in the public in this post-Blackfish era are deciding to turn away from entertainment, the future holds a more hopeful animal-friendly entertainment outcome.”
The 11 orcas left in captivity at the San Diego SeaWorld will likely never see the ocean again (or for the first time), but none of their species will ever be taken from the wild nor born in captivity ever again. California’s new law ensures that they will also cease to be forced to perform in theatrical shows and, hopefully, this will cause other states and countries to follow suit.
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