UPDATE 4:11pm EST: PETA President Ingrid Newkirk issued a statement saying: “The writing is on the sea wall. The public has learned how orcas suffer psychologically, succumb to premature deaths, and lash out in frustration and aggression in SeaWorld’s orca pits, and they’ve responded with lower attendance levels, public protests, and legislation. SeaWorld can take the year to figure out how to release the orcas into ocean sanctuaries.”
The original article follows below.
Senate bill AB 2140, which would end the practice of exploiting orcas for entertainment, began its long road to a hopeful victory today; with first discussions of the measure in the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee of the California Legislature in Sacramento.
Nicknamed the “Blackfish Bill” after the documentary that inspired its creation, the measure was created by Democrat Richard Bloom of Santa Monica. Unfortunately for the many animal activists that gathered outside the assembly, the bill was sent back for further study, with mid-2015 the soonest lawmakers could vote on the proposal.
“It’s unfortunate that much of the conversation has been fueled … by fear and invective and misinformation,” Bloom told the AP. “It’s clear that many committee members are simply unprepared to make a decision on the bill.”
According to TheDoDo, while the decision to stall the bill was disappointing, two assembly members, including Chair Anthony Rendon, publicly voiced their support of the measure.
“Yes, I support this bill, for both ethical and philosophical reasons,” Rendon said. “It’s refreshing to hear a conversation focusing on what’s best for orcas — rather than hearing a conversation about the value of these whales in terms of entertainment or the value of a company’s portfolio.”
While that show of support sparks some hopeful positive feelings about next year’s vote, former dolphin trainer-turned-activist Ric O’Barry said in an email to TheDoDo that the delay was ‘troublesome.’
“SeaWorld is tremendously powerful,” he wrote. “And in America the lobbyists lead and the politicians follow. That’s the bad news. The good news is that SeaWorld was finally dragged, kicking and screaming, to the table. And in the process the general public is becoming educated. An educated consumer is SeaWorld’s worst enemy.”
We’ll have more on this developing story as it becomes available.