U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff is planning to introduce a new bill protecting orcas, which could spell the end for SeaWorld, it has been announced on Friday, November 6.
The Democrat Representative of California’s 28th congressional district is trying to gain support for his Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act, which would ban the breeding of captive orcas, stop all imports and exports of killer whales, and bring the capture of wild orcas to an end.
This would entail that marine mammals which are currently on display in various aquatic parks would be the last ones to be kept confined there, and our generation would be the final one to see them.
In the United States, SeaWorld has a total of 24 killer whales in 3 theme parks (San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio), and there is also one orca at Miami Seaquarium.
After these current captive killer whales die, theme park operators would no longer be allowed to bring other orcas to replace them. This still gives SeaWorld plenty of time to continue to display the animals, since some of the aquatic creatures are just 10 months old, and they can live up to 50 years.
Nevertheless, as Congressman Schiff explained, keeping these marine mammals trapped in small spaces, for the viewing pleasure of the public, is an act of animal cruelty, which should no longer be condoned.
“The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display”, declared Schiff during a news conference in Santa Monica.
This perspective has been supported by the documentary “Blackfish”, released in 2013, which has shown that captive orcas that turn violent often do so because they have suffered abuse or neglect.
Meanwhile, representatives of the family entertainment company have reacted to these accusations, claiming that the inclusion of killer whales in animal exhibits and live entertainment is done while keeping in mind the mammals’ well-being.
Staff collaborates closely with scientists and wildlife conservationists in order to make sure that all the marine animals kept in captivity are treated humanely and are properly cared for.
According to Jill Kermes, spokesperson for SeaWorld Entertainment, the orcas, which supposedly are actually thriving, aren’t used solely for entertainment purposes.
Keeping them in habitats such as the Shamu Theater or the Shamu Stadium allows children and other curious visitors to learn more about this whale species, and gain a deeper understanding of it. As Kermes insists, SeaWorld and other similar organizations are actually “part of the solution, not the problem”.
This viewpoint is also supported by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, whose representatives have pointed out that essential research is conducted at these oceanariums, and tourists get the opportunity to gaze at these extraordinary mammals in person.
The new bill proposed by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff comes on the heels of California Coastal Commission’s decision to grant permission to SeaWorld to expand orca tanks at its location in San Diego.
This approval of Blue World Project however came under the condition that the theme park should cease to breed orcas or artificially inseminate them.
The transfer, sale and trade of killer whales has also been banned, and all these prohibitive measures have been met with condemnation by SeaWorld officials, who have said they would contest the ruling in court. According to them, this would require separating killer whale moms from their calves, or siblings from each other.
On the other hand, members of the Animal Welfare Institute have argued that the fact that orcas are forced to breed with family members is detrimental to the species, and a long-term contraceptive should be devised.
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