Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

California Bans Captive Breeding of Killer Whales at SeaWorld

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

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch