A proposal out of California to ban orca whale shows could also make a splash here in South Florida, and impact the future of a Miami Seaquarium star.
California State Assemblyman Richard Bloom made the pitch Friday.
“It’s my belief, and the belief of a growing number of scientists that orcas do not belong in captivity,” Bloom said.
Bloom’s proposal would ban all orca shows in California, and forcing them to breed in captivity.
“These creatures are much too large and intelligent to be confined in small concrete pools for their entire lives,” he added.
Here in South Florida, marine animal advocate and Dolphin Freedom Foundation President Russ Rector questioned the proposal.
“Reality is, I don’t think it has a chance of passing,” he said.
One obstacle, Rector pointed out, is that just banning orca shows alone might be too narrow.
“You can’t go into a facility and ask for one animal, or say, ‘okay, we’re going to take these, but leave those.’ That to me is ‘specieism’ almost. When you say, ‘free Lolita,’ there’s 54 other marine mammals at the Miami Seaquarium. They don’t mean anything,” Rector said.
Back in January, the National Marine Fisheries named Lolita part of a protected orca population; but, the agency stopped short of granting the more than 40-year-old orca endangered species status, which, if granted, could end her Seaquarium show career.
The spotlight on whales Lolita has grown bright within the past year with the release of the documentary “Blackfish.” The film has made worldwide headlines for its exposé on killer whales in captive care and trainer deaths at SeaWorld.
The response has been so overwhelming that SeaWorld has recently launched a campaign on its site to counter the documentary’s content.