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San Diego Supervisors Back SeaWorld In Killer Whale Controversy

Above: Ulises, a killer whale at SeaWorld San Diego, is seen in his tank on July 19, 2010.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to oppose recently introduced legislation that would ban SeaWorld San Diego from featuring orcas in its shows, as well as any future state or federal efforts proposing similar restrictions involving killer whales.

SeaWorld San Diego is the region's second-largest attraction and draws millions of visitors each year, according to county officials. It also employs thousands and is a major contributor to San Diego's economy.

Last month, Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introduced the proposed ban on killer whale performances in response to abuse allegations made in the documentary "Blackfish," which explored the death of a SeaWorld Orlando trainer drowned by an orca four years ago.

"While I understand the emotions behind this bill, emotions are a poor way to create policy -- especially when dealing with a local employer that will provide jobs directly for 4,500 of our friends and neighbors while drawing over 4 1/2 million visitors through its gates," Supervisor Ron Roberts said.

SeaWorld would be allowed to keep an orca exhibit, albeit with more of an aquarium-like setting, under the "Orca Welfare and Safety Act." But it would be prohibited from breeding in captivity, importing and exporting the animals, which can live up to 80 years and grow to 32 feet in length.

Supervisor Ron Roberts said the proposal "threatened to greatly diminish SeaWorld's ability to contribute to our community."

Last week, an Assembly committee referred the bill for further study, which could take about a year.

Supervisor Dave Roberts, who cast the dissenting vote, said he would rather wait until all the questions were answered.

"I think we're all scratching our heads as to why we're diving into a controversial issue when the issue was decided in Sacramento for us," he said.

The bill has gained support from animal rights activists such as Martha Sullivan, who said the "highly intelligent, socially sophisticated orcas" did not thrive in captivity and should not be forced to perform until they eventually die.

"We're talking about morality and ethics here," she said.

SeaWorld executives have adamantly denied animal abuse allegations, along with accusations that they do not do enough to protect the trainers.

John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego, said the park in recent weeks had been surrounded by emotion and misinformation -- much of which was the result of the "propaganda film."

"Our passionate and dedicated team of zoological professionals are the real animal advocates," Reilly said. "They work tirelessly to provide the best habitat possible for our animals, the best physical and behavioral health programs and an educational and memorable experience for all of our guests."

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Avatar for user 'laura5628'

laura5628 | April 18, 2014 at 3 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

What a tragedy: Roberts citing 4,500 jobs and revenue from 4.5 million visitor$ a year as his reason - for perpetuating robbing orcas of their freedom.

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Avatar for user 'laura5628'

laura5628 | April 18, 2014 at 3:06 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

SeaWorld's denial of allegations of animal abuse does not absolve them. Even *if*… SeaWorld treats the Orcas like royalty, which SeaWorld does not, it does not make it okay to steal Orcas from their families and their freedom.

Requiring Orcas to work to earn revenue so they can be fed sounds a heck of a LOT like slavery.

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Avatar for user 'laura5628'

laura5628 | April 18, 2014 at 3:07 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

In the wild, orcas’ lifespan is 50-80 years. In captivity though, orcas die in their teens and 20s. Only a handful of captive orcas have made it past 35.

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Avatar for user 'laura5628'

laura5628 | April 18, 2014 at 3:12 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

If SeaWorld’s tax contributions & 4,500 jobs are San Diego County Board's substantiations, we can help your cause and likely double or triple your tax revenues!

Here’s how: exchange SeaWorld’s orcas with Board members and other politicians. Let's be sure to separate the politicians (for life) from their parents, siblings, spouses and children. Then let's starve the politicians. Wait until they are lonelier than lonely - and hungry. THAT will motivate them to learn tricks we will train them to perform for paying visitors. Seeing captive politicians will be soooo much better than seeing them free, because captive politicians can be seen by more visitors then free politicians hiding in the wild… We will call this scientific research.

Our captive politicians’ lifespan will be half that of free politicians (as is the case of Sea Worlds captive Orcas who die before they reach middle age). This means we will need to breed politicians to make more for us and our tax revenue stream. Breeding naturally will not do. Instead, we will use machines to collect male politicians’ semen and artificially inseminate female politicians. We will then have entire generations who have never known freedom.

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Avatar for user 'TeresaWagner'

TeresaWagner | April 20, 2014 at 8:53 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

This is brilliant! The only thing any reader should know is that machines are not used to collect whale semen at SeaWorld--humans masturbate the whales to get it (If you haven't seen Blackfish, watch it. The scene of the masturbation is one of the sickest in the entire film). So it would only be fair to have another species, monkeys perhaps, masturbate the politicians to gather their sperm so it is an as accurate duplication of what happens at SeaWorld as possible.

Free the whales to sea pens. SeaWorld does not have to lose a penny. Even MORE people will go there if the whales are able to live in comfort. The fear about losing money because ten whales would no longer be forced to perform tricks for food is absurd.

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