SeaWorld has been approved to expand their tank that holds their killer whales in San Diego. The $100 million expansion will double the size of the killer whale habitat, but the California Coastal Commission has placed a condition on it: SeaWorld will not be able to use any of the whales for breeding.
Animal rights activists have praised the decision, prompting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to release a statement: “The California Coastal Commission did right by orcas in requiring, as a condition of approval for the Blue World Project, that SeaWorld stop breeding them, which will ultimately end captivity for long-suffering orcas in California.”
— CompassionWorks Intl (@CWIntl) October 9, 2015
“SeaWorld has admitted that it intended to breed even more orcas to fill the new tanks, but the commission’s action today ensures that no more orcas will be condemned to a non-life of loneliness, deprivation, and misery.” In the last-minute amendment, it bans the breeding of captive orcas, which also includes artificial insemination, in SeaWorld’s California Park only. It also prohibits any sales, trade, or transfers of captive orcas. Huffington Post reported, Dayna Bochno, one of the commissioners said:
‘I can approve this project, but only with conditions,’ and captivity is harmful to the whales.
According to The Guardian, SeaWorld said that it was disappointed with the conditions that were attached to the approval of its Blue World expansion. “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 park said.
Hendrik Nollens, SeaWorld veterinarian, had slammed the accusations that the expansion would lead to more captivity for the orcas, and called the move “outlandish,” according to International Business Times. “We care for these animals as if they were family. We have nothing but the whales’ best interest at heart,” he said.
Nollens had also denied allegations that the whales are tortured and are suffering because of separation from their family. “We don’t separate calves from mothers. We don’t collect orcas from the wild. Whales at SeaWorld are not bored. Whales at Sea World are not stressed. Not one whale is receiving anti-depressants,” he reportedly said.
BLACKFISH — Killer whales at SeaWorld documentary maker Gabriela Cowperthwaite:
Since the release of the documentary film Blackfish in 2013, SeaWorld has come under heavy scrutiny. The film suggests that the stress of captivity can provoke violence in orcas, but SeaWorld has insisted that the whales are neither stressed or depressed.