California Governor Brown Signs Groundbreaking Legislation to End Orca Captivity

Help End Orca Captivity in California - Photo from Flickr by Jon AttfieldWashington, DC—California Governor Jerry Brown officially signed groundbreaking legislation yesterday, prohibiting the breeding and theatrical performance of captive orcas in California, as well as their export, consistent with federal law, out of North America.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) was the co-sponsor of this legislation, along with former SeaWorld trainers Samantha Berg, Carol Ray, and John Hargrove. The sponsors and the author of the legislation, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), worked for two years to secure its passage.

“We are so grateful to the governor for signing this act into law. We now must work to have other states follow California's shining example,” stated Dr. Naomi Rose, AWI marine mammal scientist. “The day when no more orcas or other cetaceans suffer in tanks anywhere is one step closer.”

The effort to end the display of captive orcas in the California legislature began in 2014, with Bloom’s introduction of AB 2140. While the hearing for that bill in the Assembly’s Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife was generally favorable, the opposition of SeaWorld Entertainment, which holds 11 orcas in San Diego, was sufficient to keep it from a vote. In the interim, public pressure against the display of captive orcas, fueled by the documentary Blackfish, continued to mount. SeaWorld voluntarily announced in March of this year that it would end the breeding of its orcas company-wide and lifted its opposition to the measure. The bill was reintroduced as AB 2305 in the spring, renumbered AB 1453 in August, and finally passed as part of a resources budget trailer bill a few weeks ago (SB 839).

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Media Contact:
Amey Owen, amey@awionline.org, (202) 446-2128