The Florida Orca Protection Act, which would provide certain legal protections to orcas held in captivity in the state of Florida, has been officially introduced to the Florida House of Representatives. Modeled after the California Orca Protection Act, signed into law in September of 2016, the Florida bill would reinforce a ban on captive orca performances and breeding programs in the state.
“The Florida Orca Protection Act ensures that SeaWorld is held to its promise to end orca captivity and extends these important protections to other captive-held orcas in Florida,” says Colleen Weiler, WDC’s Rekos Fellow for Orca Conservation. “This is an amazing first step to ending orca captivity in Florida, and we look forward to working with our partners to make sure this bill becomes law.”
After intense public pressure, declining ticket sales, and falling share prices following the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld pledged to end captive breeding and phase out the use of orcas for entertainment in their U.S. facilities. The California and Florida laws aim to make these protections legal requirements, and also prevent the transport of orcas overseas or any future marine parks from holding orcas captive. The Florida bill would also protect captive Southern Resident orca Tokitae (Lolita), held at the Miami Seaquarium.
After several high-profile deaths at SeaWorld facilities in 2017, including Tilikum, the subject of Blackfish, and Kyara, the last orca born at SeaWorld, there are now 23 captive orcas in North America.