August 26, 2016
The California State Legislature on Friday approved a historic bill that would ban the breeding of captive killer whales and orca performances in that state. It would also prohibit the export of captive orcas out of North America.
The legislation, presented in the State Senate as a rider to a budget bill, passed 26–13, strictly along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of the measure and Republicans opposing it. It now goes to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Naomi Rose, a killer whale expert and a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, which cosponsored the bill.
“It took us long enough, and it was quite the wild ride, but it’s done, although it still has to go to Governor Brown,” Rose said. “But we hear he is inclined to sign it.”
“The governor has until Sept. 30 to take action,” Deborah Hoffman, Brown’s deputy press secretary, wrote in an email. “We generally don’t comment on pending legislation.”
The move to ban orca breeding and shows in California, home to 11 killer whales at SeaWorld San Diego, was introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Richard Bloom in March 2014.
That bill, which also required that killer whales be sent to retirement in sea sanctuaries, was opposed by SeaWorld and the Assembly majority leader at the time, Toni Atkins, who represents San Diego. It was tabled in committee.
This spring Bloom reintroduced the measure, without the sea sanctuary provision, and it passed an Assembly vote on June 21.