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Milestone Bill Could Mean The End Of Orcas In Captivity

If this man has his way, orcas being held in captivity could be a thing of the past.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced on Friday that he plans to introduce federal legislation, titled the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act, that would phase out the captive breeding of orcas. It would prohibit breeding, wild capture and import and export of orcas, while allowing facilities like SeaWorld enough time to phase it out in a manageable way.

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"The evidence is very strong that the psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals far outweighs any benefits reaped from their display," Schiff said in a statement. "We cannot be responsible stewards of our natural environment and propagate messages about the importance of animal welfare when our behaviors do not reflect our principles."

"The ORCA Act ensures that this will be the last generation of orcas who live in captivity, and we will appreciate these incredible creatures where they belong - in the wild," he added.

The bill is backed by State Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), marine biologist and orca expert Dr. Naomi Rose and former SeaWorld trainer Samantha Berg.

"As a former Marine Mammal Trainer at SeaWorld, I saw firsthand how orcas suffer in captivity," Berg said in a statement. "No amount of toys, larger tanks, better veterinary care or love and attention from their trainers will ever come close to simulating the richness of their lives in the ocean. We cannot meet their needs in captivity."

The news follows SeaWorld's third-quarter earnings report on Thursday, which revealed lower-than-expected numbers and led to a stock market tumble. The company has been suffering since the release of the 2013 film "Blackfish," which led to public concerns over the company's treatment of its orcas.