SeaWorld San Diego killer whale shows could end if new legislation passes

The popular US attraction has been criticised following allegations made in the documentary 'Blackfish'

A US lawmaker in California has proposed legislation to stop killer whales performing at shows in the popular marine mammal park SeaWorld, in San Diego.

More than 4 million people each year visit the attraction, which has come under scrutiny following the release of  the 2013 documentary Blackfish.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom said his decision was influenced by allegations made in the film.

Blackfish drew attention to how killer whales, or orcas, are treated at SeaWorld, where they are trained to perform tricks in live shows.

It also claimed that SeaWorld employees are not safe, and focused on trainer Dawn Brancheau, who died in Orlando, Florida.

During the incident in 2010, she was allegedly pulled into the pool by an orca called Tilikum and subsequently drowned.

Following Ms Brancheau’s death, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposed rules restricting trainers from being in the water with the whales during public performances.

"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” said Mr Bloom in remarks prepared for the bill's release Friday, U-T San Diego reported.

“These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives.”

“In their natural habitat, orcas are family-oriented, highly adaptable, socially complex with cultural traditions and [are among] the most intelligent creatures on this planet," he said.

“If we truly want to help orca conservation, we should focus our efforts on restoring habitat in the wild and protecting our oceans,” Mr Bloom added.

Killer whale 'Tilikum' appears during its performance in its show 'Believe' at Sea World on March 30, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. Killer whale 'Tilikum' appears during a performance at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

Mr Bloom aims to end themed shows, prohibit captive breeding, and ban the import and export of the animals.

While exhibiting whales in aquarium-like displays would be allowed, the animals would no longer be made to perform and entertain.

The legislation, scheduled to be unveiled at an event attended by Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, would cover all animal water parks in California, of which SeaWorld is currently the only one.

SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz said the company has not seen the legislation and could not comment, the newspaper reported.

In a statement responding to Blackfish, SeaWorld said the documentary distorted how the whales are treated and falsely accuses officials at the park of attempting to “cover up the facts surrounding the tragic death” of Brancheau.

It added that the film is “emotionally manipulative”, and relied on information from former SeaWorld employees with “little experience with killer whales”.

Read more: Cruelty of the aquarium exposed in documentary 'Blackfish'
Our treatment of orca underscores an extraordinary disconnection from the sea
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project