Curtains for Orca 'circus' shows?
Florida politicians want SeaWorld to make good on its promise to end killer-whale party tricks
Politicians in Florida - home of SeaWorld - are seeking not only to ban the breeding of orcas in captivity, but also to make it illegal to put them in circus-style shows.
The Florida Orca Protection Act was introduced in the House of Representatives this week and, if passed, will make it illegal to keep the "killer whales" - which are technically dolphins - for anything other than rehabilitation or educational purposes.
SeaWorld, a US chain of marine mammal parks which feature whale, sea lion, and dolphin shows as well as rollercoasters, announced in 2016 that it would end its orca-breeding programmes and gradually phase out theatrical shows at its three parks.
At the time, it said the SeaWorld San Diego shows would end in 2017, while the San Antonio, Texas; and Orlando, Florida, parks would follow by 2019. But the announcement came in the same year that a bill, similar to the Florida one, was signed in California.
The only orcas allowed to be in captivity in that state now are the 11 that were there when the bill was signed.
THE PAIN OF CAPTIVITY
SeaWorld has suffered mounting pressure over its captive orcas for years, particularly following the 2013 release of Blackfish, a documentary that focused on Tilikum, an orca at the Orlando park, who was involved in the deaths of three people over the years.
Captured in Iceland in 1983, Tilikum gained worldwide infamy in 2010, when he dragged trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water by the ponytail, tearing off part of her scalp, and drowned her.
He remained at SeaWorld until his death last January from a bacterial infection.
A main argument of the film is that killer whales are not aggressive in the wild and that confinement can lead to dangerous behaviour.
At the time, SeaWorld denounced the film, saying it was "inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploit[ed] a tragedy".
WATCH | The trailer for Blackfish..