The proposed aquarium in Long Beach will not have whale and dolphin exhibits, city officials recently announced.
The decision was prompted, they said, by growing public concern about the health and welfare of marine mammals held in enclosed spaces.
"There is a prevailing municipal philosophy that intelligent mammals should not be maintained in captivity," said City Manager James C. Hankla. "There are other ways to (teach) a complete water story, using motion pictures, virtual reality or life-sized models."
Construction of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, as the proposed $100-million facility is known, is scheduled to begin next spring. Specific exhibits will be selected in coming months.
The aquarium would be the centerpiece of a proposed $557-million tourist harbor and pier at the foot of Pine Avenue.
Craig A. Humphrey, who heads a Long Beach animal advocacy group called Teach Animal Objectivity, praised the city's announcement.
"These animals are unique in the fact that their intelligence levels are matched only by their social capabilities," he said. "It's slavery to keep them in pens."