SAN DIEGO - SeaWorld said Friday that a state lawmaker who authored a bill to ban its company from using orcas in its shows is associated with "well known extreme animal rights activists."
In response to a bill authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, SeaWorld said it was "deeply committed to the health and well-being" of its animals.
Bloom introduced a bill that has three central objectives: end the use of performing orcas in theme shows, ban captive breeding and prohibit the import and export of the so-called killer whales. It does not seek to prevent SeaWorld from maintaining an orca exhibit so long as it is done in more of an aquarium-like setting.
Bloom who held a Friday press conference in Santa Monica alongside Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of the controversial documentary Blackfish, and Naomi Rose, a scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute. He was also joined by former SeaWorld orca trainers.
"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom stated. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives."
SeaWorld executives have adamantly denied animal abuse allegations, along with accusations that they do not do enough to protect the trainers who work with killer whales, which can live up to 80 years, grow to 32 feet in length and weigh up to six tons.
SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz said he couldn't comment on the proposed legislation until the company reads the bill but did say it "appears to reflect the same sort of out-of-the-mainstream thinking. SeaWorld, one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions, already operates under multiple federal, state and local animal welfare laws."
Koontz said the company's employees are "the true animal advocates." "We engage in business practices that are responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share."
Here is the full statement from SeaWorld:
"While we cannot comment on Assemblyman Bloom’s proposed legislation until we see it, the individuals he has chosen to associate with for today’s press conference are well known extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions."
"Included in the group are some of the same activists that partnered with PETA in bringing the meritless claim that animals in human care should be considered slaves under the 13th amendment of the US Constitution – a clear publicity stunt. This legislation appears to reflect the same sort of out-of-the-mainstream thinking. SeaWorld, one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions, already operates under multiple federal, state and local animal welfare laws."
"In addition to being one of the most respected members of the business community, SeaWorld also is a global leader in the zoological and animal welfare world. We are deeply committed to the health and well-being of all of our animals and killer whales are no exception.
Our passionate employees are the true animal advocates – the pioneering scientists, researchers, veterinarians, trainers, marine biologists, educators, aquarists, aviculturists and conservationists who for 50 years have cared for the animals at SeaWorld and also saved thousands in the wild that are injured, ill or orphaned."
"We engage in business practices that are responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share."
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) backs the proposed legislation and issued the following statement:
"In the 21st century, it's time to recognize that the orcas and dolphins held captive at SeaWorld do not belong there at all. Their containment in pitiful swimming pools instead of great oceans and in isolation instead of pods condemns our own race's greed and obliviousness.
"At SeaWorld and other animal abusement parks, these once-magnificent beings are separated from their families—including babies who are torn from their mothers' sides—and can swim only in endless circles between concrete walls, the constant stress of confinement driving them to lash out violently in frustration at each other and their human captors."
"PETA and kind people around the world have called on SeaWorld to retire these deprived orcas to a seaside sanctuary, but the park continues to defend its overt cruelty. This bill has the potential to end the deep injustice of exhibitions of captive marine life."
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