California Lawmaker Proposes End to Orca Whale Shows

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014  |  Updated 11:39 AM EDT
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A proposal out of California could ban orca whale shows in that state.

California State Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D) made the pitch to allow ocras to stay in captivity, but only for research and rehabilitation, not to perform.

"It's my belief, and the belief of a growing number of scientists that orcas do not belong in captivity," Bloom said.

Bloom's proposal would ban all orca shows in California, prevent forced ocra whale breeding in captivity and prohibit the whales from being imported and exported in California.

"These creatures are much too large and intelligent to be confined in small concrete pools for their entire lives," he added.

Here in South Florida, marine animal advocate and Dolphin Freedom Foundation President Russ Rector questioned the proposal.

"Reality is, I don't think it has a chance of passing," he said.

One obstacle, Rector pointed out, is that just banning orca shows alone might be too narrow.

"You can't go into a facility and ask for one animal, or say, 'Okay, we're going to take these, but leave those.' That to me is 'specieism' almost," Rector said.

There's no word on whether Florida legislators would consider a similar proposal to California's.

Back in January, the National Marine Fisheries named the Miami Seaquarium's Lolita part of a protected orca population; but, the agency stopped short of granting the more than 40-year-old orca endangered species status, which, if granted, could end her show career.

The spotlight on orca whales has grown bright within the past year with the release of the documentary "Blackfish." The film has made worldwide headlines for its exposé on killer whales in captive care and trainer deaths at SeaWorld.

The response has been so overwhelming that SeaWorld has recently launched a campaign on its site to counter the documentary's content.

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