SeaWorld has initiated a lawsuit against the state of California to overturn a ban on orca whale breeding. The Aquarium-themed recreational park wants to expand the size of its artificial orca habitat in San Diego, but the state will only allow the expansion if it agrees to stop breeding killer whales.
According to SeaWorld, the California Coastal Commission doesn't have authority to regulate captive breeding of whales. SeaWorld says that marine mammals are governed by federal laws.
SeaWorld: Coastal Commission Overstepped Its Authority
The park says that the California Coastal Commission is only designed to oversee coastal development in California, and it can only reject or approve construction projects. If the commission's decision to end killer whale breeding goes into effect in San Diego, it would ultimately end the theme park's killer whale show -- arguably its most popular attraction.
Attorneys for SeaWorld argued, "The condition forces SeaWorld to either agree to the eventual demise of its lawful and federally regulated orca exhibition, or withdraw the permit application and forego the effort to enhance the orcas' habitat."
Following a seven-hour hearing last October, the California Coastal Commission agreed to let SeaWorld augment its orca pools on the express condition that captive breeding come to a halt and none of its marine mammals are transferred to other SeaWorld locations.
SeaWorld: Hearing Unfair Because Animal Rights Activists Showed Up
SeaWorld says that the California Coastal Commission hearing was unfair because animal rights activists showed up. "Animal rights activists appeared at the Coastal Commission hearing and vilified SeaWorld," the park's lawyers said.
According to the lawsuit, eight out of 11 of SeaWorld's killer whales were born in captivity. The park says that it has not captured a wild killer whale in over 35 years and it has promised not to do it again.
SeaWorld's lawsuit against California is asking for the restrictions to be reversed, and that a new hearing be held for its development proposal that does not involve restrictions on its animal breeding and transferring practices. It is also asking to be compensated for its attorneys' fees.
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