A new ruling could mark the beginning of the end for SeaWorld, after Californian authorities have prohibited the park from breeding animals in captivity.
The California Coastal Commission decision came after the San Diego aquarium requested to build new tanks for its orcas (killer whales).
And, while the CCC granted that request and will allow the location to expand its current orca tanks and build two more, the allowance came with the major condition that SeaWorld will no longer be permitted to breed its existing 11 orca whales.
The decision is perhaps the most significant victory to date for animal rights activists in their fight against orca captivity.
In a statement SeaWorld said it was “disappointed” with Thursday’s ruling.
SeaWorld San Diego Park President John Reilly added:
Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane.
SeaWorld has faced increasing pressure following the release of 2013 documentary film Blackfish, which focused on an orca held by the marine park and analysed the controversy over captive killer whales. Since the release of the movie, business at SeaWorld has taken a significant hit, despite SeaWorld’s claims that the film is “false and misleading”.
In the days leading up to the vote, the California Coastal Commission received 250,000 responses from the public on the issue — many of whom were opposed to the expansion.
Former SeaWorld trainers and Blackfish stars have welcomed the decision and hailed it as a major victory for animal rights.
We just watched the most significant victory v Marine Mammal captivity in the history of this fight
Good Souls, Facts + #Blackfish Effect
— Jeffrey Ventre (@jeffrey_ventre) October 9, 2015
We won!!! Thank you to the California Coastal Commision!
— John Hargrove (@johnjhargrove) October 9, 2015
In a press release, Jared Goodman, foundation director of animal law for PETA, said:
The California Coastal Commission did right by orcas in requiring, as a condition of approval for the Blue World Project, that SeaWorld stop breeding them, which will ultimately end captivity for long-suffering orcas in California.
SeaWorld has admitted that it intended to breed even more orcas to fill the new tanks, but the commission’s action today ensures that no more orcas will be condemned to a non-life of loneliness, deprivation, and misery. SeaWorld is a sea circus, and the orcas are its abused elephants.