The death of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau — and especially the documentary that brought it to everyone’s attention, Blackfish — have stirred up quite the controversy. Earlier this year, California law makers even toyed with establishing new state and/or federal statutes and regulations, ones that would end Sea World San Diego’s world-famous Shamu Show.
New Law Would Prohibit Capture, Breeding, And Showcasing Of Orca Whales
“The bill would have banned the import, export, and breeding of orcas while requiring SeaWorld San Diego to move its 10 killer whales out of tanks and into larger sea pens,” ABC News writes. Unfortunately, law makers did not know what to do with the proposed bill, or the The Orca Welfare And Safety Act. There is very little legislative history on the matter, and, therefore, things like considering legislative history research or legislative intent become more or less obsolete. “There are federal laws governing the care, capture, and research use of the killer whales,” CNN explains. These laws do not, however, necessarily shed light on the current situation. (The only other laws currently in place protect whales in the wild. Boats must keep their distance, and in all states except for Alaska, whaling is illegal.)
Is It Humane To Keep Killer Whales In Captivity?
Without a clear federal statutes and regulations (or legal statutes of any kind), that is the big question. Experts do not agree. Some say keeping whales in captivity helps us better understand them — and helps foster children’s interest in them. Others, however, believe that species like killer whales are too cognizant — and have family structures that are too integral to their well-being and survival — to live in tanks at Sea World.
Legislators continually tackle tough issues — and, this time, it is their responsibility to decide the fate of killer whales, even if they are tabling the decision for another year.