'Science Over Spectacle': Support for Anti-SeaWorld Bill Goes Viral

The 'Blackfish' bill banning orcas in captivity in California has strong online support.

If Assemblymember Richard Bloom's bill becomes law, spectacles of captive orcas like this one could be forced to close for good. (Photo: Creative Commons/Diogo Cortiz da Silva)

Mar 7, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Liana Aghajanian is TakePart's weekend editor. Her work has appeared in ForeignPolicy.com, BBC.com, Los Angeles Times, and TheAtlantic.com.

Hope for orcas at theme parks like SeaWorld rose yesterday as a California lawmaker proposed a ban on the animals' being held in captivity.

Inspired by the CNN documentary film Blackfish, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act (A.B. 2140) introduced by state Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a Democrat from Santa Monica, would make it illegal for the cetaceans to be caught, held, used, and bred for performance or entertainment purposes. The bill would also prohibit the import of orcas or orca semen from other states into California.

Advocating "science over spectacle," Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute, who has been working to improve the welfare of captive orcas for more than 20 years, said in a news conference yesterday that the bill was the "first step in ending the global exploitation of a species that was never suited to live in our world." She also expressed gratitude on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute to Bloom for his courage and conviction.

Rose wasn't the only one.

The bill to improve the lives of these highly social animals, which typically travel in groups of 40 to 50, has been met with massive praise across social networks, with supporters taking to Twitter to thank and support Bloom. The bill, poised to make a massive impact in California if passed, was met not only with excitement but also a drop in stock for SeaWorld, which was probably having its worst day since the premiere of Blackfish.

A Big 'Thank You' to Richard Bloom

Many reached out to Bloom to let him know how much they appreciated his effort. Others made sure to let him know they admired his courage.

Nenetheless, Bloom has received heat from San Diego officials, who seem more concerned about the effect on the city's identity and tourism industry the proposed bill would have.

Twitizens Back the 'Blackfish' Bill

News of the proposed bill spread quickly, gaining support across the country and its own hashtag, "#blackfishbill."

Bindi in a Bind Over Bill

In light of Bloom's bill, some directed their frustration at Bindi Irwin. The teenage daughter of late Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin is the newest youth ambassador for SeaWorld.

SeaWorld Shares Plummet

The immediate and wide-reaching impact of the bill, as SeaWorld Entertainment stock dropped as much as 7 percent after Bloom's announcement, was also noticed.

As Bloom spearheads efforts to get killer whales out of theme parks and back in their natural environments, several countries are already doing just that. India, Croatia, Hungary, Chile, and Costa Rica have already banned the captivity of dolphins, whales, and porpoises.
Judging from the bill's rousing public endorsement, California could be next.