What this bill states, if passed is that it would be illegal for SeaWorld to use their orcas for performance or entertainment purposes as well as preventing captive breeding. The bill also states that the orcas can stay at SeaWorld for the purpose of research and rehabilitation.
The bill is inspired by the documentary “Blackfish” which has stirred much controversy and dispute about the alleged animal abuse toward the orcas kept in captivity.
“Blackfish” claims that captivity conditions for the orcas at one point were unacceptable. The documentary also claims that orcas were kept in steel storages where mobility was limited and the orcas were treated with cruel punishment or not fed when their performances were not up to par.
SeaWorld argues that “Blackfish” is making inaccurate statements based on evidence that is more than 20 years old.
Both sides can argue as to how captivity conditions are for the orcas. SeaWorld claims that “Blackfish” is a propaganda and not a documentary. Yet, can’t the same be said about SeaWorld? SeaWorld is a billion dollar company that makes a majority of its revenue, if not all, off of these marine mammals.
Yes, let us sympathize with the trainers for a second. Of course trainers are there for the marine mammals. It is their job to do their best to care for these animals’ health and well-being, to make sure they are content and healthy. It is no surprise that trainers form a close and special bond with these marine mammals. And yes, maybe to some extent or aspect, these animals reciprocate.
However, as “Blackfish” candidly put it: at the end of the day, these orcas do not belong to the trainers. They belong to SeaWorld.
The fact of the matter is that these are wild animals. Whether they act out in aggravation, frustration or psychosis because of being held in captivity is not what we are looking at here.
What we are looking at is the fact that these wild animals cannot be domesticated. We can look at other instances such as the Siegfried and Roy tiger or the Charla Nash chimpanzee attacks. We even have instances where dogs, which are kept as pets, can attack. Any animal can be unpredictable. Just because they behave a certain way for days doesn’t mean that one day they will not behave in a different way.
Marine mammals are not meant to be kept in a prison-like environment for our amusement or entertainment.
So what will happen to the orcas if this bill is passed?
One has to think about how these orcas would fare in the open ocean.
SeaWorld San Diego currently has 10 orcas at their marine mammal park and of the 10, only three were captured from the wild. Of these three, Corky would be the top candidate to be released into the open ocean.
Even so, it would not be as easy as it seems as Corky would need rehabilitation, in which she would need to relearn how to catch fish on her own.
Kasatka is another candidate for release into the open ocean but would most likely not be released. The reason for this is that she has three offspring that were born in captivity who are not viable candidates for release. If the bill is passed, it might be suggested that Kasatka be placed in a netted-off sea-pen with her offspring to keep them all together.
SeaWorld has seen a decline in attendance in the first three months of this year. Whether “Blackfish” had an impact on that cannot be said for certain as SeaWorld claims the decline in attendance is due to a rise in ticket prices.
However, SeaWorld can sleep easy at night knowing that the chances of this bill passing are slim to none. As much as I am in favor for the bill to pass, it seems highly unlikely that it will. This is due to the revenue and tourism that SeaWorld brings into the city of San Diego. When it comes to the consideration of a marine mammal or money, well we all know how that goes.