New Legislation in California Regarding Seaworld

The Crumbling Industry of Killer Whale Performance


Albert Chan

Killer Whale exists peacefully with divers in the wild. Photo courtesy of Albert Chan

As children we viewed Seaworld as a heartwarming sanctuary for marine life. However, the theme park is no research-based aquarium, but a profit driven corporation. California, just a few weeks ago, passed a legislation to discontinue all exploitation of orcas.


Kenneth Darmawan(11) had not realized the enormity of Seaworld’s actions and saw it as, “a magical place where animals were safe and even friendly with humans.” 

The dynamics of Seaworld really changed after the documentary Blackfish was released in 2013. Blackfish featured trainers of Seaworld Orcas who had decided to testify against the atrocities committed by the organization. The condemnatory documentary also detailed the stories of those captive orcas. Amongst the captive orcas, an orca named Tilikum was the most tormented. Stories of Tilikum really stuck with the hearts of audiences who share the compassion of animal rights, but Tilikum was drove to the edge of sanity and had killed trainers and a trespassing civilian in his life at Seaworld. This documentary made allegations, whether true or not, like the life expectancy of orcas in captivity are a mere fraction of what they are in the wild, and violent behaviors exhibited by orcas in captivity. These claims have proven to be fatal to the orca performance industry.


According to BBC, not one case of killer whale attack on human life has been recorded in past few decades. The only instance an orca has shown aggression towards humans is in captivity. Decades of intense observation has never indicated killer whale violence directed towards our species. The piling evidence condemns Seaworld as the causation of their trainer’s death. They simply cannot contain a highly intelligent animal in an artificial pool which fails to simulate a healthy and natural environment. The repercussions have continually fueled an uproar in the animal rights community.


Organizations like PETA spearheaded the movement against Seaworld; their results were apparent. During March of this year, Seaworld announced that they would cease breeding orcas for profit. However, recently new legislative action in California has been taken to not only encourage but secure the downfall of Seaworld’s exploitation of the infamous killer whale. The bill states that Seaworld can no longer reproduce captive killer whales, import and export them, or feature them in performances (latimes).


This is a groundbreaking step for orca activists. Now it is ensured that, time given, the orca performance industry will collapse. Seaworld no longer retains the ability to gain profit through breeding and displaying orcas. Also they can neither sell nor purchase their killer whales.


Just last month Seaworld’s stock value had hit an all time low. Since Blackfish released Seaworld’s business has been on a steady decline (CNN). Now with the new bill further crippling Seaworld’s business, the stocks might just plummet further downward. Seaworld, although stopped featuring orcas, will likely never release the captive killer whales. This is in part, according to marine experts, because releasing killer whales that are raised in captivity will most certainly result in their deaths. Either way, the era of orca performances is likely to have ended.