Assemblyman Richard Bloom of Santa Monica introduced a bill Friday that would ban killer whales at theme parks, his office said in a statement.
The Orca Welfare and Safety Act would make it illegal to “hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes,” the statement said.
Bloom, a Democrat, said he came up with bill after watching a powerful documentary about killer whales, “Blackfish,” which was released last year and tells the story of a SeaWorld trainer who died in 2010 when she was pulled underwater by a killer whale.
The film argued that orcas at theme parks suffer from boredom and stress. It also raised questions about the way SeaWorld treats the animals.
Bloom’s bill, if it passes, would make it against the law to keep a killer whale in captivity for performance or entertainment purposes. It would also require that SeaWorld rehabilitate and release its killer whales back into the ocean if possible.
SeaWorld in San Diego currently keeps about 10 orcas in its tanks and is the only theme park in California that has them.
Violating the law would carry a fine of up to $100,000 and six months in jail.
“These beautiful creatures are much too large and too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete pens for their entire lives,” Bloom said in a statement. “It is time to end the practice of keeping orcas captive for human amusement.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a statement on its website praising the proposed legislation.
But SeaWorld released a statement criticizing Bloom for associating with “extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions.”
SeaWorld has previously said the documentary was based on lies.
KTLA 5’s Anita Bennett contributed to this report.