California to end breeding of captive killer whales

Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:06pm EDT
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - (Yesterday's story corrected to show in paragraph 6 that three marine mammals died within four months in late 2015 and early 2016 instead of three orcas died at SeaWorld's San Antonio park within a six-month span in 2015)

California will no longer allow the breeding of captive killer whales such as those used in SeaWorld's famous "Shamu" shows under a measure signed on Tuesday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

The move comes months after the embattled entertainment company pledged to stop breeding orcas, or killer whales, in captivity, amid criticism by animal rights groups and negative publicity linked to the documentary film "Blackfish."

The company pledged last year to replace its signature Shamu killer whale shows in San Diego with modified presentations of the animals that focused on conservation.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc, which operates marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, has a total of 29 killer whales, including six on loan to a park in Spain. Five of them were captured in the wild, but it has not caught orcas at sea for almost 40 years.

The parks have been criticized for their treatment of the captive marine mammals, with some activists seeking an end to public exhibition of killer whales altogether.

The criticism intensified after three marine mammals, an orca, a beluga whale and a white-sided dolphin, died at SeaWorld San Antonio within four months in late 2015 and early 2016.

SeaWorld has also said it will scrap plans for a $100 million project called "Blue World" to enlarge its 7-million-gallon orca habitat at SeaWorld San Diego.   Continued...

An Orca killer whale is seen underwater at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego, California March 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Blake