STATES CHRONICLE – Lawmaker pushes a new bill to protect orcas from being captured and held in captivity. A Los Angeles area congressman has announced that he plans to introduce new federal legislation meant to protect orcas from captivity. The new legislation would prohibit capturing, breeding and importing or exporting the creatures for public display.
According to officials if it is passed it could allow for the gradual phasing out of facilities meant for housing orcas. Currently, the law allows for special permits to be issues for the capture or import of orcas for purposes of public display.
The announcement may come in the wake of recent public scrutiny of organizations like Sea World and the general controversy that has been surrounding the orcas since an incident in 2010. It was the death of Sea World employee Dawn Brancheau back in 2010 that originally sparked the controversy, when the trainer was drowned by an orca at Sea World Orlando.
After a formal investigation into Brancheau’s death, Sea World received a citation for violating federal safety workplace when it was revealed that the park knowingly exposed its trainers to previously recognized hazards when working in close proximity and contact with the orcas during their performances.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who is behind the new bill known as the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act, has stated that the new legislation will hopefully phase out the captivity of orcas. He stated that evidence of both physical and psychological harm that is being done to the orcas in captivity are more important than the benefits that come from displaying them to the public.
If the bill is passed it would eventually put an end to the famous Sea World killer whale shows around the country. The San Diego Sea World park has already had a fair share of problems this year when the California Coastal Commission approved and expansion of the park’s killer whale exhibit but also ordered the park to put an end to the breeding of orcas in captivity. The park has said it will be challenging the Commission’s decision.
Not only has the controversy about keeping killer whales in captivity escalated in more recent years due to the incidents that happened at Sea World, but the numbers of visitors the parks are receiving has also declined due to documentaries such as Blackfish, which focused on exposing ill treatments towards orcas in the Sea World Parks.
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