If you’re a Golden Stater who thought this fall would be a good time to get into the giant carnivorous marine mammal breeding biz, your entrepreneurial bubble just got burst. During an approval process SeaWorld hoped would allow it to tack on a $100 million orca tank expansion, California’s Coastal Commission banned breeding new orca babies, artificial insemination, and will restrict new whales coming to San Diego. The anti-captivity community, and those who’ve watched Blackfish and now have strong feeling about orcas, are declaring a sort of victory.
At the hearing — you can listen to the full 8 hours here — SeaWorld veterinarians defended the expansion, saying it will allow for better husbandry and research. Those opposed included ex-orca rider John Hargrove, who declared, “Captivity is still captivity no matter how gentle the jailer or the size of the cell.” Naomi Rose, a marine biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute and outspoken anti-captivity advocate, called project a $100 million hole in the ground that comes at an inopportune time, considering California’s drought. Plus, based on their lifespans, the whales living at SeaWorld aren’t as healthy as they ought to be. “SeaWorld’s habitat allows whales to survive just as well as endangered and threatened populations,” she said. “That’s not actually something to shout about.”
The Coastal Commission’s ban will not affect SeaWorld’s orcas in Texas and Florida. And though the 11 whales at San Diego’s aquarium will get the larger tanks, the company is not pleased, pointing out that the whales will likely be the last to use the new digs. “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,” the company said in a statement. But if you asked the guy whose job it is to jerk off male orcas to collect their genetic material, maybe his day-to-day job got a little brighter. Though who’s to say, really? (If you’re a SeaWorld spunk-collector send me an email.)
Unfortunately, SeaWorld will remain free to pepper YouTube with incredibly misleading, morally bankrupt advertisements.