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California Bill Inspired By 'Blackfish' Aims To Ban Orca Shows At SeaWorld

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Orcas performing a show at SeaWorld (Photo by Steven Depolo via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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A Santa Monica lawmaker who was moved by the documentary Blackfish proposed a bill today to ban orca shows at SeaWorld.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom held a press conference today at the Santa Monica Pier on what he called a "landmark legislation calling for comprehensive improvement to orca protection laws in California," according to his statement (via CNN). He said that there currently aren't any laws protecting orcas (also known as killer whales) from being held captive and put on display; however, there are federal laws in place that dictate how these animals are to be caught, treated and cared for.

"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom said, reported NPR. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives."

If passed, the bill would also end all orca captivity breeding, as well as importing and exporting them in California, according to CNN. The captive killer whales would be moved to sea pens and only retired orcas could be put on display—but not forced to perform.

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Joining Bloom at the press conference were Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and two former SeaWorld orca trainers, John Hargrove and Carol Ray, reported NBC Los Angeles. Criticism against SeaWorld's treatment of orcas has ramped up ever since Blackfish was released last year. The documentary makes the argument that killer whales are extremely intelligent and shouldn't be held in captivity and forced to do shows. The film even inspired Rose McCoy, a 12-year-old girl, to protest against the SeaWorld floats at the Macy's Parade and Rose Parade.

SeaWorld responded to the bill's proposal with a statement today, according to NBC Los Angeles: "SeaWorld is a global leader in the zoological and animal welfare world. We are deeply committed to the health and well-being of all our animals and killer whales are no exception."