How did one California lawmaker nearly change legislative history earlier this year — and why are people still talking about it? The debut of Blackfish on CNN stirred up quite the controversy and continues to spur debates months later. The documentary details the story of Tilikum, Sea World’s only adult male whale, and the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
What Does Brancheau’s Death Have To Do With California Law?
Just months ago, California legislator Richard Brown set out to change history as well as state legal statutes (and maybe even ultimately federal statutes and regulations). The politician made legislative news by proposing Assembly Bill 2140, also called The Orca Welfare And Safety Act. If passed, the bill would have banned the world-famous Shamu Show at Sea World San Diego. The proposed legislation also required Sea World San Diego to relocate its killer whales from tanks to large, regulated sea pens. Unfortunately, the bill was tabled. California politicians will not have to make a final determination on the law until at least next year.
Are Laws Already Changing?
The answer to that question is yes and no. Brancheau’s death did inspire The Supreme Court and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to team up to make significant changes to The Shamu Show. Specifically, trainers are no longer permitted to swim in the water with the whales or ride them around the pool. (This put an end to tricks they had been performing for years.) The only other laws, however, loosely regulate the capture and captivity of whales in the U.S. Another law pertaining to whales in the wild forbids boats and ships from approaching wild whales too closely.
Should large whales, such as killer whales, be kept in captivity? A year from now, lawmakers and a legislative counsel may make headlines and legislative news by finally making a concrete decision about the fate of killer whales. Check out this site for more.