SeaWorld says DOJ probe into ‘Blackfish’ statements is over

December 13, 2018

  • SeaWorld Entertainment says it has been notified that the U.S. Department of Justice is ending its probe into whether company officials misled investors about the negative impact the documentary “Blackfish” was having on its business.
  • In September, SeaWorld and two former executives agreed to pay more than $5 million to settle federal fraud claims brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging they had made misleading statements about the documentary’s impact.

SeaWorld Entertainment says it has been notified that the U.S. Department of Justice is ending its probe into whether company officials misled investors about the negative impact the documentary “Blackfish” was having on its business.

In September, SeaWorld and two former executives agreed to pay more than $5 million to settle federal fraud claims brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging they had made misleading statements about the documentary’s impact.

The Orlando-based theme park company said Wednesday in a SEC filing that Justice Department has now notified the company that it won’t take any action.

Attendance and revenue declined after the release of the 2013 documentary about the life of Tilikum, an orca that killed a SeaWorld trainer during a performance in Orlando in 2010.

Source: cnbc.com

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Why did SeaWorld killer whales die? Animal activists sue for release of necropsy reports

November 29, 2018

By: Lori Weisberg

Multiple animal rights advocates sued the federal government this week in a move to force the release of necropsy reports related to the deaths of three SeaWorld killer whales, including one from the San Diego marine park.

The lawsuit, which targets the National Marine Fisheries Service, is the culmination of a so far unsuccessful quest by marine mammal researchers and advocates to gain access to necropsies they say will help them and others understand how to better care for cetaceans both in captivity and the wild.

Animal welfare groups, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the Earth Island Institute and the PETA Foundation, have been trying since last year to persuade SeaWorld and the National Marine Fisheries Service to release necropsy reports on the 2017 deaths of three killer whales — Tilikum, the SeaWorld Orlando whale featured in the 2013 “Blackfish” documentary; Kasatka, regarded as SeaWorld San Diego’s orca matriarch; and Kyara, a 3-month-old killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., argues that regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act require that SeaWorld turn over clinical history and necropsy reports to National Marine Fisheries when certain captive whales, porpoises or dolphins die . . . (to read the rest of the article visit the source)

Source: San Diego Tribune

SeaWorld to close Thursday as county braces for storm

November 28, 2018 (Wednesday)

By: Zac Self

SeaWorld San Diego plans to close Thursday as the county prepares for a storm.

According to a news release, the theme park made the decision due to heavy rain and strong winds that could sweep through San Diego.

The park plans to re-open Friday, November 30.

Showers are expected to develop Wednesday night, becoming widespread and heavier by Thursday.

Rainfall totals are expected to average between .50” to 1.50” for the coast and valleys with 2” to 4” in the mountains and .50” in the deserts.

Strong winds will also accompany the storm. A wind advisory is in effect for the coast and valleys Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and for the mountains and deserts from 6 a.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday. Click here for a look at the full forecast. 

Source: 10news.com

SeaWorld had a horrible July

July 30, 2018

After a few months of an improving outlook, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment was hit with a double whammy of bad news in July. 

Zhonghong, SeaWorld’s largest shareholder, saw their months of unsteady financial woes come to a head in July when it was revealed they couldn’t meet their financial obligations forcing them to sell off an island resort complex where a SeaWorld park was to be located. Then almost simultaneously Thomas Cook, one of European’s largest tour operators, announced that beginning next year it would no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld parks, citing growing awareness of animal welfare requirements. 

In a blog post explaining the tour group’s decision to stop selling tickets for all attractions that have orcas in captivity CEO Peter Fankhauser explained that the move comes after the company sought feedback from both customers and animal welfare experts. 

From the post: 

“This was not a decision we took lightly. We always said that we would continue to review our policy, conscious that the more we got into this area, the more we would learn, and conscious also of changing customer sentiment. We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided. We have also taken feedback from our customers, more than 90% of whom told us that it was important that their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously. That has led us to the decision we have taken today.”

Fankhauser acknowledged that both SeaWorld and Spain’s Loro Parque had met the company’s animal welfare audit, which was instituted 18 months ago, but he also said that the tour group “recognized that customer expectations were changing when it comes to animal attractions.” 

The announcement by Thomas Cook came just a day after SeaWorld acknowledged their plans for China were no longer happening. The Chinese attractions first announced in March of last year as part of a partnership between the fast-growing Chinese conglomerate Zhonghong Group and SeaWorld. Within two months of the initial announcement, the partnership had turned into a stock deal with Zhonghong purchasing Blackstone’s remaining share of SeaWorld stock, making Zhonghong SeaWorld’s largest shareholder and placing Yoshikazu Maruyama, President of Zhonghong Group’s American division, onto SeaWorld’s Board of Directors. 

At the time many industry experts pointed to the new shareholder as a potential source of funding for the struggling theme park chain. SeaWorld CEO at the time, Joel Manby, said a Chinese park was five to seven years away with a smaller family entertainment center concept also in the works. A few months later Zhonghong announced a SeaWorld branded aquarium attraction for Beijing. It’s thought that this aquarium is the FEC Manby had previously announced. 

Nearly one year to the day after the initial stock deal Zhonghong announced a SeaWorld, known as SeaWorld Haikou, would be opening on their Ruyi Island resort in China. This announcement came despite construction on the Ruyi Island project, which Zhonghong had been working on since 2012, being halted earlier in the year and despite Zhonghong defaulting on more $174 million in debt just two months earlier. 

After months of struggles and failed reorganization attempts a deal between Zhonghong and another tourism group, Xinjiang Jialong Tourism Development Co., Ltd., was announced at the end of June but that deal is contingent upon Zhonghong negotiating favorable agreements with creditors of multiple seizures. 

Despite the potential new deal, the situation for the struggling Zhonghong had only grown worse by the beginning of July. AsiaTravel.com, a tourism website company of which Zhonghong is the largest shareholder, suspended trading on the Singapore Exchange on July 6 to confirm that Zhonghong failed to provide a $5 million payment it was supposed to give the travel company, which was still running in the red. 

Less than a week later, Zhonghong sold off the Ruyi Island project to another tourism group for just over $205 million. By late July, Chinese news outlets were reporting that Zhonghong’s chairman had fled to Hong Kong. 

Within 72 hours a representative of SeaWorld confirmed to Attractions Management that its plans for a Chinese expansion were no more. In fact, the statement issued to Attractions Management denies that plans for a Chinese expansion were ever announced despite the former CEO confirming the plans just over a year earlier.  

Earlier this year, just as Zhonghong’s Maruyama was appointed interim executive chair for the SeaWorld Board of Directors he reconfirmed the commitment to bring SeaWorld to China. Despite these statements confirming the China plans by both SeaWorld and Zhonghong leadership, Attractions Management now quotes a representative for SeaWorld saying; 

“We have no plans to open a SeaWorld park in China and, accordingly, have not made any announcements to that effect.” 

It’s not clear what the broader context of the statement is, but at face value it seems to contradict previous statements by SeaWorld leadership. 

The announcement by Thomas Cook came just a day after SeaWorld acknowledged their plans for China were no longer happening. The Chinese attractions first announced in March of last year as part of a partnership between the fast-growing Chinese conglomerate Zhonghong Group and SeaWorld. Within two months of the initial announcement, the partnership had turned into a stock deal with Zhonghong purchasing Blackstone’s remaining share of SeaWorld stock, making Zhonghong SeaWorld’s largest shareholder and placing Yoshikazu Maruyama, President of Zhonghong Group’s American division, onto SeaWorld’s Board of Directors. 

At the time many industry experts pointed to the new shareholder as a potential source of funding for the struggling theme park chain. SeaWorld CEO at the time, Joel Manby, said a Chinese park was five to seven years away with a smaller family entertainment center concept also in the works. A few months later Zhonghong announced a SeaWorld branded aquarium attraction for Beijing. It’s thought that this aquarium is the FEC Manby had previously announced. 

Nearly one year to the day after the initial stock deal Zhonghong announced a SeaWorld, known as SeaWorld Haikou, would be opening on their Ruyi Island resort in China. This announcement came despite construction on the Ruyi Island project, which Zhonghong had been working on since 2012, being halted earlier in the year and despite Zhonghong defaulting on more $174 million in debt just two months earlier. 

After months of struggles and failed reorganization attempts a deal between Zhonghong and another tourism group, Xinjiang Jialong Tourism Development Co., Ltd., was announced at the end of June but that deal is contingent upon Zhonghong negotiating favorable agreements with creditors of multiple seizures. 

Despite the potential new deal, the situation for the struggling Zhonghong had only grown worse by the beginning of July. AsiaTravel.com, a tourism website company of which Zhonghong is the largest shareholder, suspended trading on the Singapore Exchange on July 6 to confirm that Zhonghong failed to provide a $5 million payment it was supposed to give the travel company, which was still running in the red. 

Less than a week later, Zhonghong sold off the Ruyi Island project to another tourism group for just over $205 million. By late July, Chinese news outlets were reporting that Zhonghong’s chairman had fled to Hong Kong. 

Within 72 hours a representative of SeaWorld confirmed to Attractions Management that its plans for a Chinese expansion were no more. In fact, the statement issued to Attractions Management denies that plans for a Chinese expansion were ever announced despite the former CEO confirming the plans just over a year earlier.  

Earlier this year, just as Zhonghong’s Maruyama was appointed interim executive chair for the SeaWorld Board of Directors he reconfirmed the commitment to bring SeaWorld to China. Despite these statements confirming the China plans by both SeaWorld and Zhonghong leadership, Attractions Management now quotes a representative for SeaWorld saying; 

“We have no plans to open a SeaWorld park in China and, accordingly, have not made any announcements to that effect.” 

It’s not clear what the broader context of the statement is, but at face value it seems to contradict previous statements by SeaWorld leadership. 

Source: Orlando Weekly.com

Orca with ‘horrific’ injury to dorsal fin performing again at SeaWorld

June 11, 2018

Less than three months after sustaining a “horrific” injury to her dorsal fin, Katina is apparently performing again at SeaWorld Orlando, though with an altered appearance that likely will remain permanent.

Heather Murphy, founder of Ocean Advocate News, told BNQT that she went to check on the injured orca Saturday and discovered her performing again. She did not know when Katina resumed working, adding that SeaWorld has not reported any updates.

“Although she does seem to be improving, her dorsal fin is permanently damaged,” Murphy told BNQT. “If she were to get an infection, it could be a death sentence for her. She has reportedly been on antibiotics for so long that her body has become resistant, and she will not be able to withstand a major infection.”

As reported by BNQT in April, Katina, the matriarch of the SeaWorld Orlando orca pod, suffered a huge cut into the backside of her dorsal fin in what SeaWorld believes to be the result of interactions with other members of the orca pod.

The injury occurred March 17. SeaWorld didn’t announce it until two weeks later, saying “it’s not clear exactly how she sustained that injury.”

Murphy called the injury “horrific.” She captured an image of its seriousness and posted it online March 31:

Photo: ©Heather Murphy/Ocean Advocate News

Murphy took another close-up photo of Katina’s injury on Saturday. It does look improved but is still significant:

Photo: ©Heather Murphy/Ocean Advocate News

SeaWorld Orlando issued its own photo of Katina as she received treatment, saying it more accurately shows her condition today:

Photo: SeaWorld Orlando

“Although I hate to see her further exploited, I am happy that they aren’t shoving her in the back tank to be ignored like they did with Tilikum,” Murphy told BNQT, referring to the orca that was involved in the deaths of a trainer and a trespassing man at SeaWorld Orlando. It died in January 2017.

“At least she is able to stay somewhat active and socialize. She can live with the injury as long as it doesn’t get infected, as far as I know.”

SeaWorld Orlando responded Tuesday in an email to BNQT:

“The injury to Katina’s dorsal fin has continued to heal as expected. As reported in March of this year, her behavior returned to normal almost immediately following the injury. Since then, she is not showing any signs of discomfort and has been engaging with guests and the other orcas in her pod, as well as the care and veterinary staff as they continue to treat her.”

A recent YouTube video featuring long-time SeaWorld veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft addressed some of the issues in more detail.

Croft said that though Katina’s wound is deep it’s not life threatening, her blood work is not showing any signs of inflammation or infection, and she doesn’t appear to be in any pain. When trainers manipulate the wound, Katina doesn’t “show us any behavioral cues that it’s uncomfortable for her.”

“It’ll probably leave her with an altered appearance, but it’s not something that’s causing a systemic illness,” Croft added.

Some wonder why the injury isn’t simply stitched up. Croft said it has to do with the physics of it.

“Because that tissue is so thick and so heavy, and it’s made of fiber cartilage, suturing it together would require way too much tension and pressure on that tissue and would actually do more harm than good,” she said.

Katina isn’t the only orca with apparent issues. Murphy also pointed out a skin condition under the mouth of Malia.

Discoloration can be seen in the white portion below the mouth. Photo: ©Heather Murphy/Ocean Advocate News

“She has had the skin discoloration for close to six months following the pilot whales being moved to Shamu Stadium and the water temperature being raised,” Murphy told BNQT. “I’m not a vet, so I don’t know the technical term, but this is very similar to how Kasatka’s injury started in San Diego and she eventually died from it.”

Kasatka was a 40-year-old orca at SeaWorld San Diego that died nearly a year ago, reportedly from incurable pneumonia.

SeaWorld Orlando disputed the claim that anything is wrong, telling BNQT in an email:

“Malia, another orca in the pod, is showing a color change in certain areas of her skin. Samples revealed nothing concerning – simply put, the superficial layers of her skin are shedding more slowly, resulting in the color change. Her team of animal care and veterinary teams are monitoring the color change as it is an opportunity to learn more about the progression of skin changes in managed and free-ranging killer whales.”

To view photos of Katina and Malia visit the source at ftw.USA Today.com

Thomas Cook could end all trips to SeaWorld after it failed animal welfare check

April 30, 2018

Holiday giant Thomas Cook could end all trips to SeaWorld in Florida after the controversial theme park failed an animal welfare check.

An audit which Britain’s biggest tour operator ordered of SeaWorld’s flagship Orlando attraction highlighted concerns.

It has stopped promoting SeaWorld on its website and given bosses three months to deal with the issues raised.

Thomas Cook sells more than 10,000 day trips a year to the attraction, which has faced criticism over alleged poor treatment of its orcas, also known as killer whales.

The travel giant refused to comment on the findings but insiders said SeaWorld fell short of its 100% threshold.

It is not known which areas led to concerns.

SeaWorld and sister Florida parks SeaWorld Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens were among 100 attractions audited as part of an animal welfare policy, based on guidance from the travel association ABTA.

Animal welfare campaigners have long criticised SeaWorld. Bosses responded in 2016 by confirming they were ending the park’s controversial orca breeding programme.

They had previously announced that live shows involving killer whales were being phased out.

Yvonne Taylor, of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said SeaWorld’s orcas were “forced to spend their entire lives confined to tiny, concrete, chlorinated cells, in which they can only swim endlessly in circles”.

She said: “There’s there’s no humane way to keep these highly intelligent animals in captivity, let alone force them to perform cruel tricks for food.

“Given that SeaWorld has now failed its own audit, Thomas Cook must end the financial lifeline it gives the park and stop selling tickets immediately.”

Thomas Cook confirmed it had audited the attraction and had contacted bosses about the results.

SeaWorld said: “While the physical audits of the parks are complete, the process is still ongoing.”

It added: “We provide world-class care to the animals in our parks.”

Source: Mirror.co.uk


OUT OF ORCA Thomas Cook stops promoting SeaWorld online following animal rights protests

February 7, 2018

The decision comes after animal rights group PETA put pressure on the holiday firm, which resulted in 22,000 people sending in emails in agreement

TRAVEL company Thomas Cook has agreed to stop promoting SeaWorld online after months of protests.

Animal rights group PETA’s campaign for the company to stop advertising included 22,000 emails from supporters.

But PETA is calling for more action from Thomas Cook, urging them to stop sales to the SeaWorld marine park entirely.

The animal rights group disagrees with SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas and other animals.

The park faced accusations of cruelty last August after an ex-trainer made allegations against it over the way whales are treated after one called Kasatka had to be put down.

Her former trainer, John Hargrove, left the marine park in 2012 after 14 years caring for the whales and became a whistleblower.

He told the Mail On Sunday: “What continues to go on in parks like SeaWorld is an abomination.

“They claim captive orcas help educate people, and for years I bought into it. But Kasatka lived in misery, in barbaric and horrific conditions, and died in agony.”

Hargrove wrote a best-selling book on his experience at SeaWorld and was a central figure in the award-winning documentary Blackfish.
The 2013 film detailed the suffering of the animals at the marine park and caused the company’s shares and tickets sales to plummet.

And last April SeaWorld announced that the birth of a killer whale at its parks would be its last.

In a statement at the time, the theme park said: “Although this will be the last opportunity for SeaWorld guests to see a baby killer whale up close as it grows and matures, SeaWorld will continue to care for the orcas at its parks for decades to come.”

A rep for Thomas Cook told Sun Online Travel: “We have taken steps to remove promotional content for all animal excursions, in line with our animal welfare policy.

“This includes adverts, social media promotional campaigns and blog content across our websites and social media channels.”

A SeaWorld spokesperson said: “SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment remains committed to operating at the highest animal welfare standards and tickets to our parks continue to be sold by Thomas Cook.

“All of our SeaWorld parks are accredited and certified by several of the world’s foremost zoological bodies including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA) and the American Humane Association.”

Source: The Sun.co.uk

Animal rights group PETA bought stock in Thomas Cook so it could lobby the firm to cut ties with SeaWorld

February 6, 2018

  • Animal rights activists invested in travel company Thomas Cook in a protest against its stance on SeaWorld.
  • PETA bought around £1.20 of stock to gain access to Thomas Cook’s AGM in London and lobby executives and shareholders.
  • Campaigners object to the company selling tickets to SeaWorld, which they think is cruel and inhumane in its treatment of killer whales.
  • Thomas Cook told Business Insider that animal welfare is a priority.

Animal rights group PETA has purchased stock in travel company Thomas Cook to gain entry to its AGM and lobby executives in person to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld.

PETA has long been protesting against the Florida marine park for its treatment of whales, which it says is cruel and inhumane. It also targets businesses that deal with SeaWorld, like Thomas Cook, which offers tours to the park.

The group told Business Insider that it has bought a single share in the company, valued at around £1.20 ($1.66), because it grants it entry to the annual general meeting, being held in London this Thursday.

Yvonne Taylor, a PETA campaigner, told Business Insider that she and a colleague plan to use this right to go inside the AGM in east London and ask executives directly to end ticket sales to SeaWorld, and to lobby shareholders.

Meanwhile, protesters outside are going to distribute leaflets, and pose for photos. Activists will hold gravestones and roses to mourn 41 orcas the group says died at a young age during their time in captivity at SeaWorld.

PETA is known for its eye-catching and disruptive protests, but Taylor said its actions at the AGM would have a respectful tone and will be made in a genuine spirit of engagement.

She said their lobbying has had some effect already, claiming credit for a decision by Thomas Cook over the weekend to remove references to SeaWorld from its online marketing.

However, it still offers tickets, a practice PETA wants to stop. In a statement to Business Insider, Thomas Cook said it was “puzzled” that it had been targeted despite taking some steps to improve its animal welfare standards.

A PETA spokeswoman told Business Insider: “At SeaWorld orcas are confined to tiny concrete tanks, where they’re deprived of any physical or psychological stimulation.

“These highly intelligent animals — who live in large, complex social groups and swim up to 140 miles a day in the wild — are forced to spend their days swimming in endless circles and gnawing on the bars of their tanks in frustration.”

PETA considers this an example of animal cruelty, and has called SeaWorld an “abusement park.”

In a statement to Business Insider, Thomas Cook did not directly address its relationship with SeaWorld, but defended its commitment to animal welfare. It said:

“As the first tour operator to enforce an animal welfare policy by removing animal excursions that don’t meet the standards we require from sale, Thomas Cook welcomes discussion on this important topic.

“We have been encouraged by the support we’ve received from groups like World Cetecean Alliance, however we’re puzzled by PETA’s approach.

“This appears to criticise us specifically because we’ve taken an industry-leading position. We are committed to continue to work with the industry to raise standards of animal welfare around the world.”

Three killer whales died while living at SeaWorld’s California franchises in 2017.

The theme park has since phased out its emphasis on the animals, announcing in 2015 that it would stop using them in shows at some locations and in 2016 that it would no longer breed them.

The decision doesn’t appear to be a result of animal rights protest, though. Earlier this month, the SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby slammed “small-minded arguments from activists that really don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Source: Business Insider.com

SeaWorld and OCEARCH Join Forces to Bring Travellers Closer to Marine Life

February 2, 2018

SeaWorld Entertainment and OCEARCH, a leader in generating marine life scientific data, have partnered to make their research data available to both the scientific community and the general public for the first time ever. The partnership will bring everyday people closer to the water by sharing real-time data, content, and park experiences.

In an effort to promote global conservation and educate the public, OCEARCH is gathering data that did not exist previously. The research that is collected from expeditions is the first of its kind and is shared freely with the public allowing everyone to learn from the data collected. Users can learn about rescued animals, read their stories and follow their tracks in almost real time as they are given a second chance at life.

Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader said “Together, OCEARCH and SeaWorld will focus on bringing everyday people closer to the ocean to increase understanding of how to better protect marine animals and habitats. We are committed to providing open-sourced, real-time data and content, allowing anyone to follow our findings – from classrooms to researchers and experts.”

The most popular way for travelers to experience this is through the Global Shark Tracker where people can follow great white sharks, as well as the rescued and returned animals that rehabilitate in SeaWorld’s care.

SeaWorld veterinarians, scientists and researchers will participate in on-board missions with the OCEARCH team, sharing and collaborating knowledge and experience. A big focus of the partnership will be on education – co-development of content that will educate students, while inspiring the next generation of explorers, scientists, and stewards of the ocean.

Source: Travel Pulse.com

Bill to ban orca breeding in Florida dies in the Legislature

January 30, 2018

Amid strong lobbying from SeaWorld against it, a bill to ban orca breeding and future captivity in Florida has died in a legislative subcommittee.

The Florida Orca Protection Act aimed to cement into law what SeaWorld voluntarily adopted in 2016 — an end to its killer whale breeding program and a phase-out of performances as public attitudes about whales in captivity have shifted. California easily passed its own version of the law that same year after SeaWorld dropped an initial fight against the crack down.

Advocates say the marine park’s resistance to making its policy legally binding in Florida, home of its global headquarters, suggests its commitment to making this generation of orcas the last in captivity could be short-lived.

“This shouldn’t be a controversial issue because it’s just making law out of what SeaWorld says its corporate policy is,” Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney Lindsay Larris said. “There’s no accountability. It should be the lawmakers holding them accountable.”

IN DEPTH REPORT: Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky

State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, introduced the bill this legislative session after ALDF’s struggle to find a sponsor last year. Former Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota, planned to file the bill in 2016 but changed her mind after meeting with SeaWorld officials, she said.

Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, drafted the bill for this session but decided against filing it after a meeting with SeaWorld officials in December.

SeaWorld spokesman Travis Claytor previously said because the company has already committed to end orca breeding, “the legislation is unneeded and distracts from the great work being done to positively impact Florida’s wildlife.” SeaWorld had three lobbyists registered to advocate against the bill this session, according to House records.

The Florida Attractions Association — of which SeaWorld is a member — the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Florida Retail Federation also lobbied on the bill.

The Florida Orca Protection Act had been pending in the House of Representative’s Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee but did not make the agenda of bills to be heard Tuesday.

Subcommittee Chair Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, said it did not make the cut because it was introduced in the House without a Senate companion, indicating “there is not a strong will to move this issue this year.”

But there is no House or Senate rule that says only bills with companion measures may be taken up, said Travis Moore, a lobbyist who worked for ALDF on the orca legislation. It’s common for one chamber to move something legislators feel is a priority in order to negotiate policies with the other side, he said.

“It would be helpful and refreshing if SeaWorld cares enough about their own policy to help us instead of working so hard against establishing their own policy as legal public policy,” Moore said. “Their actions are more telling than their words.”

There are 22 captive orcas in the United States — SeaWorld has 10 in San Diego, six in Orlando and five in San Antonio, Texas, parks. The other killer whale in America is wild-born Lolita, brought to Miami Seaquarium in 1970. For decades, Lolita has lived alone in a tank just four times the length of her body.

Along with ending breeding and performing, the Florida bill, like California’s law, would have banned companies from shipping semen from killer whales out of the state.

Larris, the ALDF attorney, said that protection was especially crucial as SeaWorld’s ownership, and potential priorities, shift. Chinese investment firm Zhonghong Zhuoye Group acquired a 21 percent stake in the company in March, becoming the largest shareholder. Two Chinese executives now sit on SeaWorld’s board, one as chairman.

SeaWorld’s attendance is on a steady decline with 9 percent fewer visitors last fall and a 10 percent drop in revenue. Meanwhile, China’s aquarium industry is booming with 55 marine parks today and 27 under way, according to the China Cetacean Alliance.

With uncertainty over the SeaWorld killer whales ahead, Larris said ALDF will continue to advocate for this law to be passed next year. ALDF on Feb. 5 will host a screening for lawmakers in Tallahassee of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which detailed the psychological and physical trauma of captivity and is credited with a massive shift in public attitudes about SeaWorld’s practices.

“If we can’t pass the legislation this session, we want to make sure we educate people as much as possible about the issue,” she said.

Source: Tampa Bay.com