SAN DIEGO, Calif. - SeaWorld said Friday that a state lawmaker who authored a bill to ban its company from using orcas in its shows is associated with "well known extreme animal rights activists."
In response to a bill authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, SeaWorld said it was "deeply committed to the health and well-being" of its animals.
Bloom introduced a bill that has three central objectives: end the use of performing orcas in theme shows, ban captive breeding and prohibit the import and export of the so-called killer whales. It does not seek to prevent SeaWorld from maintaining an orca exhibit so long as it is done in more of an aquarium-like setting.
Bloom who held a Friday press conference in Santa Monica alongside Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of the controversial documentary Blackfish, and Naomi Rose, a scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute. He was also joined by former SeaWorld orca trainers.
"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom stated. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives."
SeaWorld executives have adamantly denied animal abuse allegations, along with accusations that they do not do enough to protect the trainers who work with killer whales, which can live up to 80 years, grow to 32 feet in length and weigh up to six tons.
SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz said he couldn't comment on the proposed legislation until the company reads the bill but did say it "appears to reflect the same sort of out-of-the-mainstream thinking. SeaWorld, one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions, already operates under multiple federal, state and local animal welfare laws."
Koontz said the company's employees are "the true animal advocates." "We engage in business practices that are responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share."