The proposed legislation by California Assemblyman Richard Bloom has been met with criticism. The bill would ban orca shows at SeaWorld San Diego, causing a drop in visitors and ultimately affecting the economy. The bill is also being criticized because it does not set out to save any killer whales. Over time, as the current orcas in captivity die off, SeaWorld would no longer have any at their marine park.
Last week, Bloom proposed a bill to end the orca shows at SeaWorld San Diego. The bill would not only ban the orcas from being used in shows for entertainment purposes, but it would also ban the park from using them for mating purposes. The basis of his argument comes from watching the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which put a negative spin on the capture and treatment of the orcas. The film points out that it is inhumane for killer whales to be kept in captivity and that they eventually snap on their trainers because they are psychologically traumatized.
Bloom held a press conference in Santa Monica on Friday. He said that the killer whales are “too large and intelligent” to remain in captivity their whole lives. Despite the criticism that the filmmakers have received over Blackfish, Bloom agrees with the statement it makes and is fighting for the rights of the orcas.
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, of Oceanside, said that the bill would strip San Diego of its “unique identity.” Shamu Stadium is the main attraction at SeaWorld. Seeing killer whales is a rare experience. If the shows were banned, as Bloom’s legislation suggests, visitors would drop tremendously.
Banning the marine park from breeding killer whales would also ensure that future generations would never see them. Once the orcas in captivity die off, SeaWorld would not be able to feature them anymore. The bill would only allow the park to rehabilitate a rescued orca and hold it in an open sea pen for public viewing.
Another criticism of Bloom’s plan to ban orca shows at SeaWorld San Diego is the hit it would deliver to the local economy. The park paid in excess of $14 million to the city last year in rent alone. That is not taking into account all of the money that tourists spent on hotels, dining and other entertainment in the area while there to visit the orcas.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “In addition to drawing thousands of tourists to San Diego each year, it is also a leader in marinetime and wildlife conservation.” Visitors are able to learn about the fascinating animals and it often sparks an interest in conservationism.
In essence, the proposed bill that would ban the killer whales from performing at SeaWorld San Diego would not help save or rehabilitate them in any way. Bloom is receiving criticism for the plan because he is basing the decision on an emotional response from watching the documentary, which may not be completely factual. The legislation would not affect the killer whales that face extinction due to poachers or address the needs of the species in general, but focuses on the 10 animals that provide exposure and entertainment to SeaWorld San Diego’s 4.4 million annual visitors.
By Tracy Rose