Legislation seeking to ban orca captivity and end all shows featuring killer whales at San Diego's SeaWorld theme park was put on hold in the California State Assembly on Tuesday, effectively killing the bill for this year.
The Assembly committee did not take a formal vote on AB2140, but agreed to have studies conducted over the next year before revisiting the issue in 2015.
Last month, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) proposed the bill that would have forced SeaWorld San Diego to end their killer whale shows, adopt sea pens, and eventually release them from captivity.
SeaWorld has recently been under fire by activism groups claiming that the theme parks mistreat and improperly drug their orcas. Several supporters of AB2140 packed the Sacramento hearing on Tuesday. Also in attendance was SeaWorld San Diego president John Reilly.
"SeaWorld feels really strongly that this is an extreme legislation that is based on propaganda," said Reilly. "We are opposed to everything in it. There is not a single element in it we would support."
"If you ban them, you buy them," said Scott Wetch, a SeaWorld lobbyist.
The public has learned how orcas suffer psychologically, succumb to premature deaths, and lash out in frustration and aggression in SeaWorld's orca pits, and they've responded with lower attendance levels, public protests, and legislation. SeaWorld can take the year to figure out how to release the orcas into ocean sanctuaries.