California bans killer whale shows and breeding

È diventata legge la proposta che vieta gli spettacoli dal vivo e la riproduzione in cattività delle orche in California.

Another little step towards a fairer treatment of the animal kingdom has been finally taken. Observing a huge, majestic predator like a killer whale (Orcinus orca), which has an extraordinary emotional intelligence and an extremely complex social life, performing tricks for ignorant and unaware spectators’ entertainment is really discouraging. But fortunately, California will be no longer able to have this kind of shows.

killer whale seaworld
According to scientists, killer whales have developed a part of the brain involving emotions and awareness that humans haven’t

No more killer whale shows

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill, named Orca Protection and Safety Act, which bans orca breeding and shows. Anyway killer whales can still be rescued and rehabilitated if they are found stranded. However, SeaWorld does not plan to return its 11 killer whales to the wild as the bill says that starting in 2017 orca shows can continue if they are “educational orca encounters”. The animals will still be kept in captivity but – at least – they won’t be forced to perform tricks and will be given larger pools.

The impact of Blackfish

People’s awareness on the exploitation of killer whales has increased exponentially after the launch of the documentary Blackfish in 2013, featuring the story of Tilikum, an orca that killed 3 people while kept in captivity. The documentary denounces the violence to which these animals are subjected in waterparks. After the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld’s shares have dropped from 39 dollars in 2013 to 18 dollars today. Joel Manby, CEO at SeaWorld, recognised that the decision of stopping orca shows followed the criticism and a reduction in visitors.

killer whale
In captivity, killer whales are subjected to stress that can lead to mental illness. In the wild, killer whales can live up to 80 years, while in captivity only 30.

The future of entertainment will respect animals

“As more and more members in the public in this post-Blackfish era are deciding to turn away from entertainment, the future holds a more hopeful animal-friendly entertainment outcome,” said Carney Anne Nasser, senior counsel for wildlife and regulatory affairs at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. California has set an example and activists are hopeful that other states like Texas and Florida will follow suit. “It’s only a matter of when, not if, the use of animals in entertainment will become a relic of the past”.

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