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San Diego County board opposes curtailing orca shows at SeaWorld

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticeAmusement and Theme Parks

SAN DIEGO -- The county Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 1 Tuesday to oppose any attempt by the state Legislature to "eliminate or restrict the use of orcas at SeaWorld."

A legislative committee last week delayed a vote on a bill that would end orca shows at SeaWorld San Diego. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), was sent out for "interim study," an ill-defined process that could last 18 months.

The county board alerted the chief administrative officer to be ready to oppose any attempt to reintroduce the Bloom bill or any other bill to curtail the killer whale shows.

Supervisor Ron Roberts, in a letter to colleagues, said the bill in Sacramento has "heightened our awareness that state or federal officials may at a future date exercise their considerable powers to once again attack the economic underpinnings of one of our region's greatest assets."

The orca shows are considered the marquee attraction at SeaWorld, a major employer and driver of the region's tourism economy.

Supervisor David Roberts voted against the resolution. While praising SeaWorld, he said he would rather wait until all the questions raised by the Assembly bill about the treatment of orcas in captivity are answered.

Before the vote, the supervisors heard from opposing sides of the orca dispute: SeaWorld officials who said the 10 orcas are well-treated, and animal rights activists who said the orcas are mistreated by being restricted to concrete pools.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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