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Animal welfare activists are rallying in San Diego today to protest a proclamation issued by the mayor’s office, honoring the 50th anniversary of the city’s SeaWorld park. Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was sworn in earlier this month, joined with Councilwoman Lorie Zapf this morning to declare this March “SeaWorld San Diego month” in the city.
According to Katie Arth, a San Diego native and PETA spokesperson present at this morning’s announcement, the proclamation was accepted “unanimously” after no city council members objected outright to its enactment. A number of local residents oppose the declaration, which credits the park with “rescuing and caring for animals, conducting research, educating students and employing youth,” according to the San Diego City News Service. Arth called the views in the proclamation “out of step with public opinion in San Diego.”
Faulconer’s announcement comes just ten days after State Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a bill to make orca shows illegal in California. Bloom’s bill, called the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, is specifically meant to affect SeaWorld San Diego, which is the only facility in the state that holds captive killer whales. Faulconer has publicly blasted the bill, saying that it “will only serve to hurt San Diego jobs” and calling SeaWorld “a critical part of San Diego’s economy.”
Protestors at today’s announcement responded to the mayor’s emphasis on economic interests with regard to SeaWorld, citing concerns about corporate profits taking precedence over animal welfare. “Mayor Faulconer should be condemning SeaWorld for its cruel treatment of orcas and other animals, not celebrating its greed," Arth said in a statement. "SeaWorld should use its resources to create a humane, animal-free theme park and retire the suffering orcas to large seaside pens."