Quantcast

California Bans Captive Breeding of Killer Whales at SeaWorld

The California Coastal Commission has approved a $100 million plan to to double the size of SeaWorld San Diego's orca tanks but there was one major condition: No more captive breeding.

According to the Associated Press, the "last-minute amendment would ban breeding of captive orcas, including through artificial insemination, at the California park but not at SeaWorld facilities in other states."

Sale, trade or transfer of captive orcas has also been prohibited. "The amendment does provide a potential exemption for certain whales caught in the wild but it wasn't immediately clear whether that applied to any of the orcas at the San Diego park," the AP added in its report.

The new tank, which is part of SeaWorld's planned Blue World Project meant for orca research and education and set to open in 2018, will have a surface area of 1.5 acres and a depth of 50 feet.

However, Ingrid Visser, head of the Orca Research Trust in New Zealand, pointed out to the Los Angeles Times that whales in the wild swim an average distance of 138 miles per day and dive to depths of about 600 feet.

“These new tanks do not meet these basic requirements,” she said. “No facility ever will."

SeaWorld said it was disappointed by the conditions set by commission, which oversees construction projects along California's coast.

“A ban on breeding would sentence these animals to a slow extinction in our care,” John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego, told the Los Angeles Times.

The ocean park also said in a statement, “We are disappointed with the conditions that the California Coastal Commission placed on their approval of the Blue World Project and will carefully review and consider our options. Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life, and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane.”

According to the AP, the decision has raised questions of whether SeaWorld will continue with the project or legally challenge the decision.

The embattled theme park has been facing continued public criticism and slumping in ticket sales since the airing of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which exposed the cruel treatment of SeaWorld's captive orcas.

The vote from the California agency was declared a victory for animal rights activists as it ultimately bans any future breeding of the whales. 

"SeaWorld has admitted that it intended to breed even more orcas to fill the new tanks, but the commission’s action today ensures that no more orcas will be condemned to a nonlife of loneliness, deprivation and misery," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.

"These 11 orcas would be the last 11 orcas there," PETA lawyer Jared Goodman told the AP.

The prominent animal rights group said it had sent 120,000 e-mails and letters urging the commission to vote against captive breeding.

Hundreds of protesters, including actress and noted PETA spokeswoman Pamela Anderson, showed up at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center where an all-day, and at times emotional, meeting on the issue was held.

Several people in attendance provided testimony to the state panel.

“Captivity is still captivity no matter how gentle the jailer,” said former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove, who also appeared in Blackfish, according to the Los Angeles Times.

SeaWorld staff countered that a larger enclosure would improve the livelihoods of the orcas and would also help visitors appreciate the orcas.

“We care for these animals as if they were our family,” said Hendrik Nollens, the head veterinarian at SeaWorld.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

World’s Oceans Face Worst Coral Die-Off in History, Scientists Warn

14 Elephants Killed With Cyanide in Zimbabwe

Show Comments ()
Sponsored

Thirsty? Here Are 9 Types of Water You Can Drink

Plus, learn if there's one that's best for your health.

Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment / Getty Images

By Jennifer Still

You hear it all the time: You should be drinking more water. How much depends on the person, but generally speaking, staying well hydrated offers a host of health benefits. That includes higher energy levels and better brain function, just to name a few.

Read More Show Less
An invasive Amynthas worm, also known as a crazy snake worm, Asian jumping worm and Alabama jumper Tom Potterfield / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

My wife and I built a house two years ago on a few acres of woodland outside of Pittsburgh. The backyard is full of maples, poplars, briars and common spicebush. Two-lined salamanders and grumpy-looking crayfish wade among the rocks in the small stream that runs down the edge of the property. Deer, raccoon and opossum tracks appear regularly in the snow and mud. Sometimes, my trail-cam even catches a pair of gray foxes as they slink through the night.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

By Kate Murphy

No matter the time of year, there's always a point in each season when my skin decides to cause me issues. While these skin issues can vary, I find the most common issues to be dryness, acne and redness.

Read More Show Less

David Woodfall / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Sam Nickerson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2018 proposed relaxing standards related to how it assesses the effects of exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals on public health.

Now, correspondence obtained by the LA Times revealed just how deeply involved industry lobbyists and a controversial, industry-funded toxicologist were in drafting the federal agency's proposal to scrap its current, protective approach to regulating toxin exposure.

Read More Show Less
Steve Irwin poses with a three foot long alligator at the San Francisco Zoo on June 26, 2002. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

February 22 is the birthday of conservationist and beloved TV personality "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who would have been 57 years old today.

Irwin's life was tragically cut short when the barb from a stingray went through his chest while he was filming in 2006, but his legacy of loving and protecting wildlife lives on, most recently in a Google Doodle today honoring his birthday.

Read More Show Less