California Bans Breeding Killer Whales and SeaWorld Shows

California Bans Breeding Killer Whales and SeaWorld Shows

SeaWorld has long been criticized for its program of breeding killer whales and holding them in captivity. However, a new law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown will now ban the birth of further killer whales in captivity. Whales already in captivity may remain there, but will no longer be allowed to perform “on command.” Instead, so-called educational experiences will replace the live shows. [1]

Animal rights groups and the general public had their interest piqued in the treatment of the killer whales after the airing of the 2013 documentary BlackfishThe well-known film documented the life of SeaWorld killer whale, Tilikum, who killed several people during his time in captivity. His rage was chalked up to being raised in an environment abnormal for his species.

Entitled SB 839, the new bill was first proposed by Democrat Richard Bloom in April of this year. It proposes that any individual or company that breeds the killer whales, or forces them to perform in a live show, will face fines up to $100,000.

Read: Stunning Viral Video Shows Whales and Dolphins Playing

The SeaWorld theme park in San Diego has stated that they are not affected by this decision, as they had already planned to stop breeding whales in captivity. They have also decided to phase out the famous “Shamu shows” in favor of “educational encounters,” which will begin sometime in 2017.

SeaWorld’s company, which operates theme parks in Texas, Florida, and California, owns a total of 29 killer whales, however, most of them were born in captivity. Only 5 of the current bunch were born in the wild.

SeaWorld has stated that although they will cease their breeding programs, they will not release the current captive animals into the ocean, as they fear that having lived their lives in captivity would make it nearly impossible for them to survive in the wild. [2]

The new rules will begin in the SeaWorld San Diego Park, and will filter to the other parks by 2019. However, the company has stated that this does not stop them from rescuing and rehabilitating stranded orcas (another name for killer whales).

Although there is no word on what these new “educational shows” will contain, SeaWorld has stated that it will:

“reflect the natural world and will focus on the research, education, care and respect that align with our mission to advance the well-being and conservation of these beautiful creatures.” [3]


[1] Time

[2] Fortune

[3] IFL Science!