Bill to ban orca shows at SeaWorld will not be reintroduced this year

Bill to ban orca shows at SeaWorld won't be reintroduced in Legislature while study is conducted

A bill in the California Legislature to ban killer whale shows at SeaWorld San Diego, tabled last year for further study, will not be reintroduced this year.

The bill's author, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), confirmed Friday that he would not reintroduce the bill while the issue of orcas in captivity was being studied.

Bloom's bill would have prohibited the use of orcas for "performance or entertainment purposes" and require SeaWorld to return its orcas to the wild "where possible." Otherwise, the park would have been required to transfer the orcas to a sea pen.

In April, an Assembly committee sent the bill for "interim study." No date was set for the study to be completed.

The panel's action did not require a vote, thus sparing committee members from choosing between SeaWorld and the animal-rights activists.

SeaWorld is in district of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and is a major factor in the region's tourism economy.

The bill was supported by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has long asserted that SeaWorld's treatment of orcas is cruel, an accusation that SeaWorld denies.

On Saturday, PETA's director of animal law, Jared Goodman, said the group was pleased that the study ordered by the Assembly committee was continuing and looked forward to the bill returning in 2016.

"This is a failing business," Goodman said of SeaWorld, "and there is no future for marine-mammal 'abusement' parks in any state."

Orca shows at SeaWorld's Shamu Stadium have long been a marquee attraction.

But in the wake of the documentary "Blackfish," which blasted SeaWorld for keeping orcas in captivity, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has seen a decline in revenue, attendance and stock price. In December the company announced that its chief executive was departing.

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