An End To Performing Orcas?

A California bill would ban keeping orcas – killer whales — in captivity for entertainment. SeaWorld is preparing for battle. We’ll dive in.

An endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. (AP)

An endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. (AP)

Orcas, killer whales, are big.  Ten thousand pounds.  More.  They clearly weren’t made to live in pens or sea parks.  But for decades now they have, performing for millions of visitors thrilled by their incredible scale, agility, and intelligence.  A new bill just introduced in California would end all that in the state where Sea World began.  It would ban performing orcas.  Ban the holding of killer whales in captivity for entertainment.  The evidence is in, supporters say, that it’s just too cruel for the great creatures.  But it’s a big business, fighting back hard.  This hour On Point:  the fight over orcas.

 — Tom Ashbrook


Naomi RoseMarine Mammal Scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute.

Tim Zimmermann, Outside magazine correspondent, associate producer and co-writer of the documentary, “Blackfish.” (@Earth_ist)

Grey Stafford, animal trainer and director of Conservation at the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium in Phoenix. (@ZOOmility)

Tony Perry, San Diego bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. (@LATSanDiego)

Read A Statement From SeaWorld

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Proposed ban on orca shows at SeaWorld stirs anger in San Diego — “A bill by a Santa Monica assemblyman that would ban orca shows at SeaWorld is being blasted in San Diego, home of the marine theme park. SeaWorld expressed doubt about the legality of the legislation.”

The Hollywood Reporter: The ‘Blackfish’ Effect: California’s Proposed Orca Ban, Artists Canceling Theme Park Concerts — “On March 7, California assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Democrat whose district includes Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, Brentwood and Santa Monica, introduced legislation that would ban amusement parks from using orcas for performances in theme shows. Spurred by the controversial documentaryBlackfish about captured orcas, the bill also would illegalize captive breeding and prohibit the import and export of the so-called killer whales.”

New York Times: SeaWorld Questions Ethics of ‘Blackfish’ Investigator — “‘Blackfish’ has become a rallying point for those who oppose the use of killer whales for entertainment in the SeaWorld parks, and it has drawn large audiences in theaters and on TV. But SeaWorld has defended its practices, mounting an aggressive pushback against the film.The company continued its counterattack with a complaint delivered Thursday to the Labor Department. It accuses the official examining an orca’s 2010 fatal attack on a SeaWorld trainer of ethical violations, including leaking confidential documents to the makers of ‘Blackfish.'”

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