Introduced first by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D–Santa Monica, the bill has provided a major rallying point for animal advocates, who cite the documentary "Blackfish" as the inspiration for the legislation.
In addition to Assemblymember Bloom, witnesses gave testimony at the hearing including Naomi Rose, a marine mammal expert with the Animal Welfare Institute, Deborah Giles, an orca expert at UC Davis and John Hargrove, a former orca trainer at SeaWorld. The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Born Free USA and the Earth Island Institute were all in attendance to support the bill as well. During the bill's hearing, Assemblymember Bloom called SeaWorld's orca shows "glorified circus acts."
"California has long been a leader in animal welfare," Bloom said, noting that "a large and diverse group of scientists have proven that the negative consequences of keeping orcas in captivity" outweigh any benefits gained from keeping them.
Former SeaWorld employee John Hargrove echoed this, citing his 20 years as an orca trainer and witness to disturbing stereotypic and obsessive compulsive behavior among captive whales, as well as health problems faced by captive whales. "Make this the last generation of killer whales in captivity," Hargrove said.