Wednesday, 14 September 2016 00:00

Born Free USA Applauds Governor Brown for Signing Law to Phase Out Orca Captivity in California Featured

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Law is first of its kind in the nation; prohibits breeding and capture of orcas

Washington, D.C., September 14, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends California governor Jerry Brown for signing S.B. 839 yesterday: a budget bill that includes the California Orca Protection Act. Authored by Assembly member Richard Bloom (D-50), this law bans the possession, capture, export, and breeding of orcas in California, with an exemption for orcas currently held in captivity.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “California is setting a momentous precedent by becoming the first state in the nation to outlaw breeding and future possession of orcas. This legislative remedy remains urgently necessary, even after SeaWorld’s major announcement on March 17 that it would immediately end the breeding program for its orcas globally and phase out its theatrical orca shows by 2019. The California Orca Protection Act is an essential next step to legally codify SeaWorld’s business decision, and also prevent other corporations from filling this newly vacant entertainment space. It ensures that the 11 orcas in San Diego are the last generation of captive orcas displayed in the state.”

Orcas are unsuited to captivity and suffer enormously in marine parks. These remarkably intelligent animals swim 100 miles per day in the wild and have profound relationships with their family pods. In the wild, the average lifespan is 30 years for males and 46 years for females, although they have been known to live 90 years. Captive orcas are susceptible to a range of ailments and issues that cause misery and drastically shorten their lives. Mental anguish takes a severe toll and orcas have been known to self-mutilate out of boredom and desperation. Most die before they reach age 25 in tanks that are only 1/10,000th of one percent the size of their natural home ranges.

Roberts adds, “The needs of these smart and social animals cannot be met at all in captivity. Great progress has been made for orcas this year, and California’s new law is another groundbreaking step toward ending orca captivity entirely. Born Free USA hopes other states will follow California and pass similar compassionate legislation to empty the tanks.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at,, and

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