A landmark bill proposed in March sought to ban performing orca shows and orca captivity in California - a ruling that could topple SeaWorld's marquee park in San Diego, which holds the state's only 10 captive orcas. The bill was put on hold in April; the earliest that lawmakers could vote on it would be mid-2015.
There's one simple reason for all this pushback from the public. People no longer want to see a large animal who possesses complex intellectual and emotional abilities confined to a tank for entertainment purposes. We've realized that there are viable alternatives to this type of captivity: watching films and television shows about them, learning more about them from research materials, and observing animals in the wild. We have also realized that with careful planning, captive orcas could be responsibly retired to a more natural life in protected sea pens.
And yet, SeaWorld is already floating a plan to expand to the Middle East.
The only real, viable solution is for SeaWorld to adapt: end its orca breeding program, and retire its whales. The heyday of "Shamu" shows that put entertainment first and animal welfare second is behind us. Now, SeaWorld needs to catch up.