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Governor Brown Signs Bill Putting An End To Orca Shows At SeaWorld

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The Shamu show at SeaWorld (Photo by Josh Hallet via the Creative Commons)
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SeaWorld has been around for more than half a century. But it was not until recently, with the release of the documentary Blackfish, that the public was fully aware of the torment faced by whales in captivity. We keep seeing evidence that they're suffering in the close confines they're put in—earlier this summer, an orca in Spain (loaned from SeaWorld) apparently tried to beach itself in front of terrified spectators.

In response to the backlash, SeaWorld decided in March that it would no longer breed orcas (also known as killer whales) in captivity, and that it would phase out its orca shows. Now, Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will put a stop to orca shows throughout California. The bill, first proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), makes it a crime for an individual or corporation to keep an orca in captivity, and to breed orcas while they're captivity. It also prohibits the import and export of new orcas, as well as the semen and/or embryos of orcas (I swear officer, I don't know how it got there!). Violating these rules will lead to a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum fine of $100,000. This all means that, very soon, we won't been seeing orca shows in the state anymore.

There are certain exceptions, however. The bill says that a "bona fide educational or scientific institution" may be in possession of an orca if researchers are attempting to study or rehabilitate the whale. And, if releasing it back into the wild isn't a possibility (i.e. if the whale is handicapped), it may be held captive for educational purposes.

In a written statement, PETA said that this bill will, "[ensure] that future generations will not endure the deprivation, stress, and frustration of being trapped inside a tiny concrete tank."

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As noted by Whale and Dolphin Conservation, 92% of whales at SeaWorld have not lived past 25. The average lifespan is 30 years for male whales, and 50 for females.

LAist contacted Bloom's office but no one was immediately available for comment.