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Santa Monica Rep. Richard Bloom’s Orca Bill Stalled for Study

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

April 9, 2014 - - A new law -- proposed by Santa Monica’s State Assembly Rep. Richard Bloom -- that would ban killer whale captivity in California is stalled after the Assembly’s Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife voted Tuesday to study the issue further.

The Orca Welfare and Safety Bill (AB 2140), which garnered international attention and controversy when Bloom introduced it last month, won’t go to a vote this year after the Committee sent it to an “interim study,” effectively delaying the bill until next spring.

While the study means the Orca Welfare and Safety Bill, which would outlaw killer whale shows like those at San Diego’s SeaWorld, won’t go to a vote until at least the Assembly’s 2015 session, Bloom welcomed the move.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said in an official statement Tuesday. “I am confident the research and science in the study will show the need for this important legislation.”

He reaffirmed his position that the use of killer whales for entertainment is not scientifically beneficial and distresses the animals.

In March, Bloom announced the bill alongside two former SeaWorld trainers and Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of the controversial documentary “Blackfish,” which Bloom cited as one of his inspirations for the bill.

The film, which has been blasted by SeaWorld officials as inaccurate, tells the story of the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity.

Tilikum and other captive orcas, the film maintains, are driven to violence as a result of the stresses of captivity and performing.

SeaWorld, which has 10 orcas, has fired back against AB2140, however, calling it unnecessary.

Other opponents to the bill have argued that ending killer whale shows could hurt San Diego’s tourist industry since SeaWorld -- and the shows -- are a huge draw.

But Bloom has said that the bill, which would also ban captive breeding of killer whales, isn’t about targeting SeaWorld. It’s about recognizing that killer whales are too large and too intelligent to be kept in captivity, he said, pointing out that it would affect none of SeaWorld’s many other attractions.

“This is a complicated issue,” said Bloom’s Chief of Staff Sean MacNeil told The Lookout Tuesday.

“There’s passion on both sides,” he said. “This is an opportunity to flesh out some of these issues.”

And an opportunity to “address some of the misconceptions,” MacNeil said.

Since the bill won’t be considered until next legislative session, it will have to be reintroduced as a new bill.

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