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AB 2140 (Bloom) California Captive Orca Welfare and Safety Act

Fact Sheet


After the tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn


Brancheau, the public has begun to question the moral


justification of keeping orcas in captivity for our general

entertainment. After humans, killer whales are the most


socially and ecologically complex species on the planet.


Scientists studying killer whales in the wild have


documented the close social bonds these animals share.


As top predators, their cooperative hunting techniques

and unique vocalizations demonstrate highly evolved


learned behavior, what many call culture. Our captive

orcas only culture is performance based culture. Killer


whales are capable of traveling 100 miles per day and are

found in all the world’s oceans, yet are allowed to be


held in small concrete tanks.


As a state we should lead the way in ending captivity for entertainment purposes and should be ensuring our current captive population general welfare needs are taken care of, and that we end any future captivity whether it be by capture or captive breeding programs here in California. Many scientists agree holding orcas captive have no conservation benefits for orcas in the wild and have only advanced captive breeding techniques with debatable success. If we truly want to help the orca we should focus our efforts on restoring habitat in the wild and protecting our oceans.

Like the elephant – the largest land mammal in captivity – we have realized that orcas are more complex than most other marine mammals and require more space, have a more complex social structure and most importantly need their family network (pod) for a happy and healthy life. Orcas simply do not belong in captivity.


AB 2140 does the following:

Ends performance based entertainment for all orcas in the state.

Ends captive breeding programs and the export and import of genetic materials

Ends the import and export of Orcas into and out of the state.

Requires that all current captive orcas be retired to sea pens if available.

Will allow for retired orcas to be on display but not perform.

Limits the amount of human interaction for trainer safety.


There are currently no laws prohibiting the captive display of orcas; there are only laws that govern the care and maintenance of orcas and the capture and research use of orcas. Those laws are the federal Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Animal Welfare Act establishes standards and specifications that the facility must adhere to in order to house an orca in captivity. It establishes the standard of care required when handling, housing, or transporting orcas and other marine mammals.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act is aimed at protecting the whales from being unlawfully captured from the wild by prohibiting the taking of marine mammals without specific authorization. The MMPA requires a permit for the taking of a marine mammal, like an orca, from the wild for a limited number of purposes. Permits may be issued for scientific research, public display, or for enhancing the survival or recovery of specific stocks. Authorization can also be given to take marine mammals incidentally in the course of conducting certain activities (i.e. military activities or fishing).

Along with these federal laws, marine mammal facilities also self-regulate. The two most prominent bodies involved in this self-regulation are the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). Facilities may be accredited by these bodies if they meet the standards each has established. These standards are typically higher than the minimum requirements established under federal law.


California is currently home to 10 captive orcas. Three were captured from the wild and they are:

Corky – Female, captured in Canada in 1969

Kasatka – Female, captured in Iceland in 1978

Ulises – Male, captured in Iceland in 1980

Seven were captive-born and they are:

Orkid – Female, 25 years old, mother Kandu (deceased) – Orkid has no living offspring

Keet – Male, 21 years old, mother Kalina, the original Baby Shamu (deceased)

Shouka – Female, 21 years old, mother Sharkan (deceased)

Nakai – Male, 12 years old, mother Kasatka

Ikaika – Male, 11 years old, mother Katina (in Florida)

Kalia – Female, 9 years old, mother Kasatka

Makani – Male, 1 year old, mother Kasatka

Kasatka has one other living offspring, Takara, female, 22 years old, in Texas.

In the wild, the mean life expectancy of orcas is 30 years for males and 50 for females. While a very small number of captive whales has achieved these average life spans, most die in their teens and 20s and none have come anywhere close to the estimated maximum life spans of 60-70 years for males and 80-90 for females.

California has lost 14 orcas in its 50-year history. Twelve were wild-caught and they are:

Shamu – Female, died 1971 after 6 years captive

Kandu – Female, died 1971 after 4 years

Frankie – Male, died 1974 after 5 months

Kona – Female, died 1977 after 6 years

Kilroy – Male, died 1978 after 11 years

Shawn – Male, died 1979 after 1 year

Canuck – Male, died 1981 after 4 years

Winston – Male, died 1986 after 16 years

Orky – Male, died 1988 after 20 years

Kandu 5 – Female, died 1989 after 12 years

Nootka – Female, died 1990 after 20 years

Bjossa – Female, died 2001 after 21 years

Two were captive-born and they are:

Splash – Male, died 2005 at 16 years old

Sumar – Male, died 2010 at 12 years old


Animal Welfare Institute 7 Former SeaWorld Trainers



Version: 3/7/2014