Killer whales in the entertainment industry have been the source of heated controversy for some time. In Washington state, lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of implementing a ban on the capture of the majestic sea creatures for the purpose of entertainment. More than half of the approximately 455 orcas captured for entertainment originated in Washington state, so a ban like this would send a dramatic message to water parks like SeaWorld, where killer whales are a popular (and highly criticized) attraction.
This move would not make Washington the first state to consider such a ban. Last year in California, lawmakers weighed the possibility of banning the whales’ capture as well as mandating a release of all killer whales enslaved in the performance-based entertainment industry within the state. As more people become aware of the horrific experience the black-and-white mammals endure, we are getting closer to a world in which they are properly protected.
Although most orcas in captivity came from Washington, there are zero of the enormous swimmers are currently located within the state, either for entertainment or performance. Senators there recognize that Washington state has a unique opportunity to set an example and lead the way when it comes to protecting the animals.
Some in the entertainment industry have criticized the proposed bill, saying that it will undercut the educational opportunities that marine parks and zoos offer. A group representing marine parks told the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Parks that such a ban would cast a shadow over their industry, and break the connection between the public and orcas. Effectively, they argue that the general public would no longer have an opportunity to view the whales and become inspired to support their conservation.
In addition to killer whales, the proposed ban would include other cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises, which suffer similarly tragic conditions in the name of entertainment. The legislation still needs the approval of members before it can be sent to the floor for a vote.